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Exercise induced changes in echo intensity within the muscle: a brief review

Abstract

Echo intensity is the mean pixel intensity of a specific region of interest from an ultrasound image. This variable has been increasingly used in the literature as a physiological marker. Although there has been an increased interest in reporting changes in echo intensity in response to exercise, little consensus exists as to what a change in echo intensity represents physiologically. The purpose of this paper is to review some of the earliest, as well as the most up to date literature regarding the changes in echo intensity in response to exercise. Echo intensity has been used to measure muscle quality, muscle damage, acute swelling, and intramuscular glycogen. The changes in echo intensity, however, are not consistent throughout the literature and often times lead to conclusions that seem contrary to the physiologic effects of exercise. For example, echo intensity increases in conjunction with increases in strength, contrary to what would be expected if echo intensity was a marker of muscle quality/muscle damage. It is conceivable that a change in echo intensity represents a range of physiologic effects at different time points. We recommend that these effects should be determined experimentally in order to rule out what echo intensity might and might not represent. Until this is done, caution should be employed when interpreting changes in echo intensity with acute and chronic exercise.

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Correspondence to Jeremy P. Loenneke.

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Wong, V., Spitz, R.W., Bell, Z.W. et al. Exercise induced changes in echo intensity within the muscle: a brief review. J Ultrasound (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40477-019-00424-y

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Keywords

  • Muscle quality
  • Edema
  • Muscle damage
  • Glycogen content
  • Fluid shift
  • Muscle swelling
  • Ultrasound
  • Intracellular
  • Exercise