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Identification and quantification of myofascial taut bands with magnetic resonance elastography

PainSci » bibliography » Chen et al 2007
Tags: muscle pain, diagnosis, etiology, chronic pain, imaging, muscle, pain problems, pro

Three articles on PainSci cite Chen 2007: 1. The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain2. Toxic Muscle Knots3. The Trigger Point Identity Crisis

PainSci commentary on Chen 2007: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

This paper demonstrates the use of a promising new method of imaging the taut bands of muscle associated with myofascial trigger points, using a modification of MRI technology. It is thoroughly analyzed by Simons, who writes that this technology “may open a whole new chapter in the centuries-old search for a convincing demonstration of the cause of MTP symptoms.”

This was a small proof-of-concept experiment, testing the technology on gelatin models and then two subjects. They continued with more subjects in 2008 (see Chen et al).

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

OBJECTIVE: To explore the feasibility of using a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique--magnetic resonance elastography (MRE)--to identify and quantitate the nature of myofascial taut bands.

DESIGN: This investigation consisted of 3 steps. The first involved proof of concept on gel phantoms, the second involved numeric modeling, and the third involved a pilot trial on 2 subjects. Imaging was performed with a 1.5 T MRI machine. Shear waves were produced with a custom-developed acoustically driven pneumatic transducer with gradient-echo image collection gated to the transducer's motion. Shear wave propagation were imaged by MRE.

SETTING: An MRI research laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS: Two women, one with a 3-year history of myofascial pain and the other serving as the control.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: MRE images, finite element analysis calculations, and tissue and phantom stiffness determinations.

RESULTS: Results of the phantom measurements, finite element calculations, and study patients were all consistent with the concept that taut bands are detectable and quantifiable with MRE imaging. The findings in the subjects suggest that the stiffness of the taut bands (9.0+/-0.9 KPa) in patients with myofascial pain may be 50% greater than that of the surrounding muscle tissue.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that MRE can quantitate asymmetries in muscle tone that could previously only be identified subjectively by examination.

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