These images are computed tomography (CT) scans of the core muscles (highlighted in red) of two individuals. One clearly has thick healthy muscles, while the other’s are thin and frail. Along with deepening wrinkles and greying hair, muscle loss – or sarcopenia as its known to doctors – is one of the changes that happen as a person ages. Indeed, it’s the reason elderly people are prone to falling and fracturing their hips. To assess damage after a hip fracture, doctors sometimes perform CT scans, which unlike X-rays also provide information about the muscles. And that’s useful because it’s now understood that the size and density of a patient’s muscles, can predict their ability to recover and survive after a hip fracture. Measuring the muscles of hip fracture patients could therefore be a useful tool for guiding treatment decisions, such as the type of surgery, and the required follow-up care.
Written by Ruth Williams
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.