Eye Muscle MRI in Myasthenia Gravis and Other Neuromuscular Disorders

Kevin R Keene, Irene C Notting, Jan J G M Verschuuren, N Voermans, Ronald O B de Keizer, Jan-Willem M Beenakker, Martijn R Tannemaat, Hermien E Kan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Introduction: MRI of extra-ocular muscles (EOM) in patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) could aid in diagnosis and provide insights in therapy-resistant ophthalmoplegia. We used quantitative MRI to study the EOM in MG, healthy and disease controls, including Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO), oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) and chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO). Methods: Twenty recently diagnosed MG (59±19yrs), nineteen chronic MG (51±16yrs), fourteen seronegative MG (57±9yrs) and sixteen healthy controls (54±13yrs) were included. Six CPEO (49±14yrs), OPMD (62±10yrs) and GO patients (44±12yrs) served as disease controls. We quantified muscle fat fraction (FF), T2water and volume. Eye ductions and gaze deviations were assessed by synoptophore and Hess-charting. Results: Chronic, but not recent onset, MG patients showed volume increases (e.g. superior rectus and levator palpebrae [SR+LPS] 985±155 mm3 compared to 884±269 mm3 for healthy controls, p < 0.05). As expected, in CPEO volume was decreased (e.g. SR+LPS 602±193 mm3, p < 0.0001), and in GO volume was increased (e.g. SR+LPS 1419±457 mm3, p < 0.0001). FF was increased in chronic MG (e.g. medial rectus increased 0.017, p < 0.05). In CPEO and OPMD the FF was more severely increased. The severity of ophthalmoplegia did not correlate with EOM volume in MG, but did in CPEO and OPMD. No differences in T2water were found. Interpretation: We observed small increases in EOM volume and FF in chronic MG compared to healthy controls. Surprisingly, we found no atrophy in MG, even in patients with long-term ophthalmoplegia. This implies that even long-term ophthalmoplegia in MG does not lead to secondary structural myopathic changes precluding functional recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-883
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuromuscular Diseases
Issue number5
Early online date9 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Oculopharyngeal/complications
  • Myasthenia Gravis/complications
  • Oculomotor Muscles/diagnostic imaging
  • Ophthalmoplegia, Chronic Progressive External
  • Ophthalmoplegia/diagnostic imaging


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