Validity of ultrasound muscle thickness measurements for predicting leg skeletal muscle mass in healthy Japanese middle-aged and older individuals

Yohei Takai, Megumi Ohta, Ryota Akagi, Emika Kato, Taku Wakahara, Yasuo Kawakami, Tetsuo Fukunaga, Hiroaki Kanehisa

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Background: The skeletal muscle mass of the lower limb plays a role in its mobility during daily life. From the perspective of physical resources, leg muscle mass dominantly decreases after the end of the fifth decade. Therefore, an accurate estimate of the muscle mass is important for the middle-aged and older population. The present study aimed to clarify the validity of ultrasound muscle thickness (MT) measurements for predicting leg skeletal muscle mass (SM) in the healthy Japanese middle-aged and older population.Findings: MTs at four sites of the lower limb and the bone-free lean tissue mass (LTM) of the right leg were determined using brightness-mode ultrasonography and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), respectively, in 44 women and 33 men, 52- to 78-years old. LTM was used as a representative variable of leg skeletal muscle mass. In the model-development group (30 women and 22 men), regression analysis produced an equation with R2 and standard error of the estimate (SEE) of 0.958 and 0.3 kg, respectively: LTM (kg) = 0.01464 × (MTSUM×L) (cm2) - 2.767, where MTSUM is the sum of the product of MTs at four sites, and L is length of segment where MT is determined. The estimated LTM (7.0 ± 1.7 kg) did not significantly differ from the measured LTM (7.0 ± 1.7 kg), without a significant systematic error on a Bland-Altman plot. The application of this equation for the cross-validation group (14 women and 11 men) did not yield a significant difference between the measured (7.2 ± 1.6 kg) or estimated (7.2 ± 1.6 kg) LTM and systematic error.Conclusion: The developed prediction equation may be useful for estimating the lean tissue mass of the lower extremity for the healthy Japanese middle-aged and older population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalJournal of Physiological Anthropology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sep 25



  • Bland-Altman plot
  • Cross-validation
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • Multiple regression analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Anthropology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)

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