The aim of this study was to explore changes in morphological and mechanical properties of lower-limb skeletal muscles in patients with diabetes with and without diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) and seek to find a potential image indicator for monitoring the progress of DPN in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). A total of 203 patients with T2DM, with and without DPN, were included in this study. Ultrasonography and ultrasound shear wave imaging (USWI) of the abductor hallux (AbH), tibialis anterior (TA), and peroneal longus (PER) muscles were performed for each subject, and the shear wave velocity (SWV) and cross-sectional area (CSA) of each AbH, TA, and PER were measured. The clinical factors influencing AbH_CSA and AbH_SWV were analyzed, and the risk factors for DPN complications were investigated. AbH_CSA and AbH_SWV in the T2DM group with DPN decreased significantly (P < 0.05), but no significant differences were found in the SWV and CSA of the TA and PER between the two groups. Toronto Clinical Scoring System (CSS) score and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) were independent predictors of AbH_CSA and AbH_SWV. As AbH_SWV and AbH_CSA decreased, Toronto CSS score and HbA1c increased and incidence of DPN increased significantly. In conclusion, the AbH muscle of T2DM patients with DPN became smaller and softer, while its morphological and mechanical properties were associated with the clinical indicators related to the progression of DPN. Thus, they could be potential imaging indicators for monitoring the progress of DPN in T2DM patients.

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