Computed tomography evidence of psoas muscle atrophy without concomitant tendon wasting in early sepsis

Carrie A. Kubiak, Kavitha Ranganathan, Niki Matusko, Jon A. Jacobson, Stewart C. Wang, Pauline K. Park, Benjamin L. Levi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Morphomic studies have demonstrated a correlation between sarcopenia and clinical outcomes in septic patients. However, tendon morphomics has not yet been studied in this context. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate tendon morphology in septic patients through analytic morphomics. We hypothesized that morphomic analyses would reveal concomitant muscle and tendon wasting in sepsis patients. The results of this study may help to implement different rehabilitation modalities for critically ill patients. Materials and methods: The volume and fat content of bilateral psoas muscles and tendons were measured on abdominal computed tomography scans of 25 ICU septic and 25 control trauma patients admitted to the University of Michigan between 2011 and 2012. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine the relationship between psoas muscle and tendon morphometric data, and the association with clinical variables such as smoking and comorbidities. Results: Average psoas muscle volume was 12.21 ± 5.6 cm3 for control patients and 9.318 ± 3.3 cm3 in septic patients (P = 0.0023). The average psoas muscle/fat ratio for septic patients was 0.0288 ± 0.071 cm3, compared with 0.0107 ± 0.008 cm3 in the control group (P = 0.075). Average tendon volume in the septic population (0.508 ± 0.191 cm3) was not different than the control cohort (0.493 ± 0.182 cm3) (P = 0.692). Conclusions: Our results demonstrate significantly smaller psoas muscle volume in septic patients than in age-, gender-, and BMI-matched trauma patients but no demonstrable change in tendon morphology between patient groups. These findings begin to define the boundaries of clinical application within the field of morphomics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-216
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • ICU-acquired weakness
  • Morphomics
  • Sarcopenia
  • Sepsis
  • Tendon


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