Radiographic analysis of fatty infiltration of the extraocular muscles in thyroid eye disease

Date Published:

2022 Feb


PURPOSE: Fatty infiltration of the extraocular muscles has been described radiographically in patients with thyroid eye disease (TED), yet it has not been studied on a large scale nor quantified. Our purpose was to define and characterize this entity in patients with TED. METHODS: An IRB-approved cross-sectional retrospective review of medical records identified patients with a clinical diagnosis of TED and at least one CT of the orbits. A 2:1 age and sex-matched control population consisted of patients without a history nor radiographic evidence of orbital disease or systemic thyroid abnormality. The presence of fatty infiltration in each extraocular rectus muscle was defined using Hounsfield units (HU). Laterality, muscles involved, and pattern of fatty infiltration were also evaluated. Student's t-tests, Chi-square, and Fisher's exact tests were used to compare TED and control groups. RESULTS: The study population consisted of 252 patients with TED and 504 age and sex-matched controls. Fatty infiltration was significantly more prevalent in TED patients (36/252, 14.3%) compared to controls (11/504, 2.2%) (p < .001). The mean density of fat infiltration was significantly lower in TED patients (-40.4 HU) than controls (-34.8 HU) (p = .048). In TED patients, the frequency of muscle involvement was inferior rectus (61.8%), lateral rectus (19.7%), superior rectus (11.8%) and medial rectus (6.6%), which was not significantly different than controls (p > .05). Most muscles (88.2%) in the TED group exhibited a heterogeneous pattern of infiltration, which did not differ from controls (p = .34). CONCLUSIONS: This study characterizes fatty infiltration of the extraocular muscles in patients with TED.

Last updated on 02/27/2022