In a new study, researchers from Henry Ford Hospital have discovered that ultrasound scans of a shoulder muscle can be used to predict the signs of diabetes. It suggests that deltoid muscle appears unusually bright which could be the warning signs of type 2 diabetes.
More than a decade ago, Steven B. Soliman, musculoskeletal radiologist started to notice a pattern when images of the largest muscle of the shoulder called the deltoid muscle were exceptionally bright on the ultrasound. And when the patients were asked whether they are diabetic, the answer would be ‘yes’ or they have borderline diabetes.
Observations of the ultrasound scans influenced the researchers to conduct a study to find out if brightness or echogenicity of deltoid muscle in the shoulder could be predictive of diabetes.
Using the echogenicity of the shoulder muscle, Dr. Soliman and his colleagues were able to predict the most common type of diabetes, ‘type 2 diabetes’ in almost nine out of ten patients. Further, brightness on ultrasound could predict borderline diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition where blood sugar spikes eventually leading to diabetes.
According to the researchers, these findings would doctors around the world for earlier interventions. If it is observed in the patients with pre-diabetes or diabetes, doctors can get them to modify their diet, exercise, and lose weight, researchers said, such early interventions would help patients avoid taking medications and dealing complication of the disease. For the study, the research team obtained 137 shoulder ultrasounds from type 2 diabetes patients, of which 13 had pre-diabetes. They also compiled 49 ultrasounds from non-diabetic but obese patients.
The researchers then showed these ultrasounds to musculoskeletal radiologists, unaware of the patients’ diabetic conditions. On the basis of brightness of the deltoid muscle, the radiologists were asked to classify the ultrasound scans into three categories: normal, suspected diabetes, and definite diabetes. A third musculoskeletal radiologists served as an arbitrator in cases where the previous two radiologists couldn’t agree.
The research team discovered that the consensus diagnosis of ‘definite diabetes’ was the strong predictor of diabetes status, where the radiologists accurately predicted the disease in nearly 90% of the patients.
Dr. Soliman said that they weren’t surprised with the results as the deltoid muscle was unusually bright on the ultrasound, but draw their attention was the level of accuracy. Even for pre-diabetes, a hyperechoic or exceptionally bright shoulder muscle became a powerful predictor. All the 13 ultrasounds from patients with borderline diabetes were assigned to either suspected or definite diabetes categories by the radiologists.
According to Dr. Soliman, the reason for the bright-appearing deltoid muscle on ultrasound of patients with diabetes is not yet clear, but it is suspected to be due to low glycogen level in the muscle.
The findings of the study will be presented at the annual event of Radiological Society of North America.