Because weakness of finger flexors and atrophy of the forearms are frequent findings in inclusion body myositis (IBM) patients, we examined the forearm muscles by MRI to determine if involvement of the distal musculature has a characteristic diagnostic pattern. We performed MRI of the forearms in 21 randomly selected patients with histologically confirmed IBM and in 9 patients with other, age-matched, neuromuscular diseases who served as controls. In addition, we analyzed axial images of 10 individual forearm muscles blindly without knowledge of the clinical status or diagnosis of the patients. T1-weighted MR images showed marbled brightness of the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) in 20 of 21 IBM patients, of the flexor carpi ulnaris in 7, the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) in 6, the flexor carpi radialis in 4, the supinator in 3, and the brachioradialis in 1. The extensors were normal. The abnormalities of the FDP correlated with the severity but not the duration of the disease and in some patients preceded overt clinical signs of FDP weakness. In contrast, the FDS was spared even late in the disease. We conclude that selective involvement of the FDP may occur early in the course of IBM and can be easily demonstrated by MRI in up to 95% of patients. Because selective FDP involvement appears to be a very frequent and characteristic finding in patients with IBM, MRI of the forearm is a useful noninvasive test in supporting the diagnosis of sporadic IBM.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology