Parasternal intercostal muscle ultrasound in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease correlates with spirometric severity

Peter Wallbridge, Selina M. Parry, Sourav Das, Candice Law, Gary Hammerschlag, Louis Irving, Mark Hew, Daniel Steinfort

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In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), loss of computed tomography (CT)-measured intercostal mass correlates with spirometric severity. Intercostal muscle ultrasound offers a repeatable and radiation-free alternative, however requires validation. We aimed to determine the reliability of parasternal intercostal muscle ultrasound, and the concurrent validity of parasternal ultrasound with clinicometric parameters. Twenty stable COPD patients underwent ultrasound measurement of thickness and echogenicity of 2nd and 3rd parasternal intercostal muscles, dominant pectoralis major and quadriceps, and diaphragm thickness; spirometry; and chest CT. Intra-rater intraclass correlation (ICC) for ultrasound intercostal thickness was 0.87–0.97 depending on site, with echogenicity ICC 0.63–0.91. Inter-rater ICC was fair to excellent. Ultrasound intercostal thickness moderately correlated with FEV1% predicted (r = 0.33) and quadriceps thickness (r = 0.31). Echogenicity correlated negatively with FEV1% predicted (r = −0.32). CT-measured lateral intercostal mass correlate negatively with parasternal ultrasound intercostal thickness. These data confirm ultrasound of parasternal intercostal musculature is reproducible. Lower intercostal muscle quantity and quality reflects greater COPD spirometric severity. This novel tool may have biomarker potential for both the systemic effects of COPD on muscle as well as local disruption of respiratory mechanics. The negative correlation between CT and ultrasound measurements may reflect complex site-dependent interactions between respiratory muscles and the chest wall.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15274
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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