Device measures muscle loss painlessly
A BIDMC neurologist has invented a device that charts the progression of muscle loss in patients more accurately and without pain.
Seward Rutkove, MD, chief of the Division of Neuromuscular Disease, is in the process of testing his muscle probe in patients with degenerative nerve and muscle ailments such as Lou Gehrig's disease and muscular dystrophy. Currently, charting a patient's muscle loss is done with a variety of tests that are slow, often not very reproducible, or require painful placement of a needle in a muscle as the patient is asked to contract.
Click here to watch a video of Rutkove explaining how his muscle probe works.
Rutkove's probe is non-invasive and functions similar to an ultrasound, except that it applies a very minute electrical current rather than sound waves. Using this handheld device, muscle loss is assessed through electric impedance myography or EIM. Muscle condition is measured by passing a painless electrical current through the muscle using two electrodes and measured by a second set of electrodes. In less than a minute, the device sends information about the muscle's electrical properties to a nearby laptop. Rutkove hopes his probe will be used to test a patient's response to drugs in clinical trials.
"The device is based on similar principles to the scale-like devices at some gyms that tell you how much lean body mass you have," Rutkove said. "However, here we are measuring the integrity of the membranes of the muscles over very small areas. In addition to helping diagnose conditions, it may also be a good way to see if someone is responding to a drug therapy in someone already being treated."
Upon completion of this early testing, Rutkove hopes to commercialize his device and begin bigger clinical trials with it. But for now, he is happy with what he has achieved thus far.
"Having this data coming in is a gratifying event in and of itself," Rutkove said.
For more information about his research, visit his lab's website.