Skip to main content

Spinal muscular atrophy: MR evaluation


The neurogenic myopathy of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is degeneration of anterior horn cells of the spinal cord and associated muscle weakness. In three patients with the severe type, according to Dubowitz's classification, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lower extremity showed severe atrophy of the entire muscle bundles of the thigh and the calf. Nine intermediate type patients had ragged atrophy of muscle bundles of the thigh and the calf with selective preservation of adductor longus muscle. Five patients with the mild type had fatty infiltration of muscle bundles and increased intermuscular fat planes. MRI was insufficient for the evaluation of cervical cord abnormalities. MRI of the lower extremity was a reliable complementary modality for the diagnosis and follow-up of SMA patients.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Dubowitz V (1989) A color atlas of muscle disease in childhood. Wolfe, London

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ehman RL, Berquist TH, McLeod RA (1988) MR imaging of the musculoskeletal system: a 5 year appraisal. Radiology 166: 313–320

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Jacobson HG (1989) Musculoskeletal applications of magnetic resonance imaging. JAMA 262: 2420–2427

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Murphy WA, Totty WG, Carroll JE (1986) MRI of normal and pathologic skeletal muscle. AJR 146: 565–574

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Bradley WG Jr, Waluch V, Yadley RA, Wycodd RR (1984) Comparison of CT and MR in 400 patients with suspected disease of the brain and cervical spinal cord. Radiology 152: 695–702

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Ehman RL (1987) Interpretation of magnetic resonance images. In: Berquist TH, Ehman RL, Richardson ML (eds) Magnetic resonance of the musculoskeletal system. Raven, New York, pp 23–64

    Google Scholar 

  7. Middleton WD, Macrander S, Lawson TL et al (1987) High resolution surface coil magnetic resonance imaging of the joints anatomic correlation. Radiographics 7: 645–683

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Ehman RL (1985) MR imaging with surface coils. Radiology 157: 549–550

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Hawley RJ, Schellinger DS, O'Doherty DS (1984) Computer tomographic patterns of muscles in neuromuscular diseases. Arch Neurol 41: 383–387

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Bulcke JAL, Baert AL (1982) Clinical and radiological aspects of myopathies. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 114–120

    Google Scholar 

  11. Visser M de, Verbeeten B (1985) Computed tomography of the skeletal musculature in Becker-type muscular dystrophy and benign infantile spinal muscular atrophy. Muscle Nerve 8: 435–444

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Calo M, Crisi G, Martinelli C, Colombo A, Schoenhuber R, Giberton M (1986) Ct and the diagnosis of myopathies: preliminary findings in 42 cases. Neuroradiology 28: 53–57

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Gaio JM, Lechevalier B, Hommel M, Viader F, Chapon F, Perret J (1989) Chronic spinal amyotrophy involving the upper limbs in young adults (O'Sullivan and McLeod syndrome). MRI study of the cervical spinal cord (in French). Rev Neurol (Paris) 145: 163–168

    Google Scholar 

  14. Visser M de, Ongerboer de Visser BW, Verbeeten B Jr (1988) Electromyographic and computed tomographic findings in five patients with monomelic spinal muscular atrophy. Eur Neurol 28: 135–138

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Chou SM, Gilbert EF, Chun RW, et al (1990) Infantile olivopontocerebellar atrophy with spinal muscular atrophy. Clin Neuropathol 9: 21–32

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Liu, G.C., Jong, Y.J., Chiang, C.H. et al. Spinal muscular atrophy: MR evaluation. Pediatr Radiol 22, 584–586 (1992).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Myopathy
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • Muscular Atrophy
  • Anterior Horn