In recent years, a lot of progress has been made in the use of dynamic MRI for measuring the fiber architecture, the perfusion, as well as the mechanical properties and contractile activity of skeletal muscle tissue in vivo. These parameters are closely linked and their combined measurement in comprehensive scanning protocols yields a wealth of information for the improved understanding of the function of normal muscle and the mechanisms underlying impaired function in muscle disorders.
We explore diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and fiber tracking techniques to non-invasively determine the in vivo three-dimensional architecture of skeletal muscle. Furthermore quantitative diffusion MRI is used for monitoring skeletal muscle injury and repair.
Pressure sores (decubitus) are localized areas of tissue breakdown in skin and/or underlying tissues as a result of a sustained mechanical loading. They can occur in all situations where people are subjected to such sustained mechanical loads, but are particularly common in subjects who are bedridden, wheelchair bound or wearing a prosthesis.
In this project we use an animal model of Brown Norway rats, in which we apply a well determined mechanical loading to the tibialis anterior muscle resulting in skeletal muscle damage at a cellular level. By using MRI techniques it is possible to measure the exact location of initial damage, tissue perfusion and deformation. The different factors that may play a role in the onset of muscle damage are studied, which will lead to a better understanding of the contributing factors to pressure ulcer development.