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Ultrasound-Based Detection of Fasciculations in Healthy and Diseased Muscles

Harding, PJ, Loram, ID, Combes, N and Hodson-Tole, EF (2016) Ultrasound-Based Detection of Fasciculations in Healthy and Diseased Muscles. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 63. ISSN 0018-9294


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Involuntary muscle activations are diagnostic indicators of neurodegenerative pathologies. Currently detected by invasive intramuscular electromyography, these muscle twitches are found to be visible in ultrasound images. We present an automated computational approach for the detection of muscle twitches, and apply this to two muscles in healthy and motor neuron disease-affected populations. The technique relies on motion tracking within ultrasound sequences, extracting local movement information from muscle. A statistical analysis is applied to classify the movement, either as noise or as more coherent movement indicative of a muscle twitch. The technique is compared to operator identified twitches, which are also assessed to ensure operator agreement. We find that, when two independent operators manually identified twitches, higher interoperator agreement (Cohen's k) occurs when more twitches are present (k = 0.94), compared to a lower number (k = 0.49). Finally, we demonstrate, via analysis of receiver operating characteristics, that our computational technique detects muscle twitches across the entire dataset with a high degree of accuracy (0.83 <; accuracy <; 0.96).

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