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Hofmeister, Fabian; Baber, Lisa; Ferrari, Uta; Hintze, Stefan; Jarmusch, Stefanie; Krause, Sabine; Meinke, Peter; Mehaffey, Stefan; Neuerburg, Carl; Tangenelli, Fabiana; Schoser, Benedikt and Drey, Michael (2021): Late-onset neuromuscular disorders in the differential diagnosis of sarcopenia. In: BMC Neurology, Vol. 21, No. 1, 241

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Background Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength. Undiagnosed late-onset neuromuscular disorders need to be considered in the differential diagnosis of sarcopenia. Aim Based on emblematic case reports and current neuromuscular diagnostic guidelines for three common late-onset neuromuscular disorders, a differential diagnostic approach for geriatric patients presenting with a sarcopenic phenotype is given. Methods Patients over 65 years of age with sarcopenia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, inclusion body myositis and myotonic dystrophy type 2 were recruited. All patients were assessed for sarcopenia based on the revised European consensus definition. Patients with neuromuscular diseases were diagnosed according to the revised El Escorial criteria and the European neuromuscular centre criteria. Phenotypes and diagnostic criteria for all patients were summarized including their specific histopathological findings. Results All patients with neuromuscular diseases were positively screened for sarcopenia and classified as severe sarcopenic by means of assessment. The clinical phenotype, the evolution pattern of weakness and muscle atrophy combined with laboratory finding including electromyography could unquestionably distinguish the diseases. Discussion Neuromuscular disorders can manifest beyond the age of 65 years and misdiagnosed as sarcopenia. The most common diseases are inclusion body myositis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and myotonic dystrophy type 2. A diagnostic work-up for neuromuscular diseases ensures their correct diagnosis by clinical-, electrophysiological, histopathological, and genetic work-up. Conclusions In geriatric patients with a focal or asymmetrical muscular weakness and atrophy, sarcopenia assessment should be extended with patient's history of disease course. Furthermore, concomitant diseases, analysis of serum creatine kinase, electrophysiological examination, and in selected patients muscle biopsy and gene analysis is needed to rule out a late-onset neuromuscular disorder.

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