Last update:


Arch Hellen Med, 34(6), November-December 2017, 745-753


Assessment of muscle mass in the elderly in clinical practice

M. Tsekoura, 1 E. Billis,1 J. Gliatis,2 C. Matzaroglou,1 C. Koutsojannis,1 E. Tsepis,1 E. Panagiotopoulos2,3
1Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Welfare, Technological Educational Institute of Western Greece, Faculty of Health and Caring Professions, Aigio
2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University Hospital of Patras, Rio, Patras
3Department of Spinal Cord Injuries, University Hospital of Patras, Rio, Patras, Greece

Quantification of muscle mass is important in clinical practice and several tools are used for its measurement. This is a review and critical appraisal of the muscle mass assessment tools for use with elderly patients in clinical practice. Of the 10 different tools described to measure skeletal muscle mass (SMM), computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are considered the gold standards. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is probably the best known method for measuring muscle mass in the elderly but because of the high cost of the equipment and its operation, its use may be limited. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) could provide a simpler, less expensive alternative, and it is portable. The use of anthropometrics (such as calf circumference and skin-fold thickness measurement) is feasible in the home setting. There is a lack of studies of the reliability of tools for measuring muscle mass in elderly patients. Additional research is needed to investigate how best to optimize measurement and minimize error.

Key words: Assessment, Body composition, Measurement tools, Muscle mass.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine