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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2011;2011:1871-4. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6090531.

Assessing electrical impedance alterations in spinal muscular atrophy via the finite element method.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Neurology, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Electrical impedance myography (EIM) is a surface-based, non-invasive technique of evaluation of muscle health, involving the application of high frequency, low-amplitude current to the skin over a muscle of interest. Results from a previous animal study suggest that the finite element method can relate disease-induced changes in electrical properties of the muscle to alterations in surface impedance measurements; however, whether such an approach will prove useful in human models is uncertain. Therefore, to further investigate this question, we have created a single finite element model of the human biceps muscle using data from one healthy subject and one with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), each of whom had comparable age, limb girth, muscle size, and subcutaneous fat thickness. Since healthy human tissue was unavailable, permittivity and conductivity measurements were obtained from five healthy and five advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis rat gastrocnemius muscles immediately after sacrifice; their data were input into the human biceps model and the expected surface voltages calculated. We then compared the results of this model to the actual surface EIM data for both individuals. Although the actual resistance and reactance values varied and the peak values were displaced, the resulting maximum phase predicted by the model approximated that obtained with surface recordings. These results support that alterations in the primary characteristics of muscle impact the surface impedance measurements in meaningful and likely predictable ways.

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