Introduction: Measures of hip muscle morphology and composition (e.g., muscle size and fatty infiltration) are possible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Standardised protocols or guidelines do not exist for evaluation of hip muscle characteristics, hindering reliable and valid inter-study analysis. This scoping review aimed to collate and synthesise MRI methods for measuring lateral hip muscle size and fatty infiltration to inform the future development of standardised protocols.
Methods: Five electronic databases (Medline, CINAHL, Embase, SportsDISCUS and AMED) were searched. Healthy or musculoskeletal pain populations that used MRI to assess lateral hip muscle size and fatty infiltration were included. Lateral hip muscles of interest included tensor fascia late (TFL), gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Data on MRI parameters, axial slice location, muscle size and fatty infiltrate measures were collected and analysed. Cross referencing for anatomical locations were made between MRI axial slice and E-12 anatomical plastinate sections.
Results: From 2692 identified publications, 79 studies contributed data on volume (n=31), cross sectional area (CSA) (n=24), and fatty infiltration (n=40). Heterogeneity was observed for MRI parameters and anatomical boundaries scrutinizing hip muscle size and fatty infiltration. Seven single level axial slices were identified that provided consistent CSA measurement, including three for both gluteus maximus and TFL, and four for both gluteus medius and minimus. For assessment of fatty infiltration, six axial slice locations were identified including two for TFL, and four for each of the gluteal muscles.
Discussion: Several consistent anatomical levels were identified for single axial MR slice to facilitate muscle size and fatty infiltration muscle measures at the hip, providing the basis for reliable and accurate data synthesis and improvements in the validity of future between studies analyses. Further studies into whole muscle measures are required to further optimise methodological parameters for hip muscle assessment.
Impact and application to the field: This work establishes the platform for standardised methods for the MRI assessment of lateral hip musculature and will aid in the examination of musculoskeletal conditions around the hip joint.
Conflict of interest statement: My co-authors and I acknowledge that we have no conflict of interest of relevance to the submission of this abstract.