The aim of this study was to investigate whether echo intensity of the rectus femoris when measured using ultrasound can distinguish muscles affected by COPD compared with healthy non-COPD affected muscles and whether the severity of ultrasonic abnormalities was associated with health-related quality of life (HRQoL).
Echo intensity, areas of the rectus femoris, and the thickness of quadriceps muscles were measured using ultrasound in 50 COPD outpatients and 21 age-matched non-COPD controls. The results of the 8-Item Short-Form Health Survey and the functional assessment of chronic illness therapy fatigue scales were used to evaluate HRQoL.
There was a significantly higher echo intensity of the rectus femoris in all stages of COPD patients than in age-matched non-COPD subjects; the quadriceps muscle thickness and cross-sectional area of the rectus femoris significantly decreased in COPD GOLD III-IV only. Furthermore, in our stable COPD patients, echo intensity of the rectus femoris was associated with HRQoL independently.
Quantitative ultrasound distinguishes healthy muscles from those affected by COPD grade I-IV, and quality and quantity of muscles are associated with HRQoL and forced expiratory volume in 1 second. Ultrasonic echo intensity of the rectus femoris may be a useful instrument for assessing disease severity and monitoring the changes of skeletal muscle resulting from disease progression or clinical intervention in patients with COPD.