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Can one assess muscle strength through imaging (e.g., MRI)? If so, though which type of imaging and how accurate is it?

On How does muscle size relate to strength?, I read this answer from Moses (mirror):

Strength training will increase the size and quantity of myofibrils, and subsequently increase the size of the respective muscle fibers; this process is called hypertrophy, and it results in larger and stronger muscles.

As a result, I assume that a medical imaging processing the physical strength of a muscle should assess both the size and quantity of myofibrils. That being said, it can be easier to assess the size as an approximation of strength, and if so, I wonder about 1) the quality of such an approximation 2) how to measure the size of a muscle that what cannot directly easily measured with a tape ( e.g., gluteus minimus or piriformis).


Direct measurement of muscle strength something isn't possible or advised, e.g. if the tendon is injured. Also, some muscles are difficult to isolate when testing. In the case of a tendon injury, assessing the muscle strength would be useful to find a good balance between muscle strengthening and tendon recovery.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you please add some details on what parameters would you consider for "strength"? Different imaging techniques can measure different parameters. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG May 8 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Thanks, I am interested in any parameter that has an effect on the muscle's physical strength. $\endgroup$ – Franck Dernoncourt May 8 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ To the close voters: this isn't a homework, and please let me know if the edit I made satisfy the "attempt at an answer" requirement. $\endgroup$ – Franck Dernoncourt May 8 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ @FranckDernoncourt The answer linked from Fitness.SE as well as the second answer on that question both make clear that there is a correlation but not a particularly strong one between muscle size and strength. It's unclear to me why this question is even relevant when there exist both simpler and by definition more accurate ways to measure muscle strength directly that don't require expensive medical scanner time (which is also valuable for diagnosing disease and injury). $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 8 at 22:01
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause Thanks, sounds good I edited the question to mention the use case. The measure of interest is strength though, as the muscle itself is healthy, and muscle strength is often regarded as an important factor during tendon recovery. $\endgroup$ – Franck Dernoncourt May 8 at 22:15

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