Objective: The symptoms and physical findings of intersection syndrome have been well described in the clinical medical literature. However, the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with intersection syndrome of the forearm have only recently been described in a small number of patients. We review our experience with imaging of intersection syndrome, describe previously unreported MRI findings, and emphasize modifications to MRI protocols for its evaluation.
Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval was obtained for this retrospective review of patients with MRI findings consistent with intersection syndrome of the forearm during the period from January 2004 to September 2006. Six patients were identified, three males and three females, with an average age of 39.3 years. The MRI examinations were reviewed to assess signal abnormalities within and adjacent to the first and second dorsal extensor tendon compartments (DETC): tendinosis, peritendinous edema or fluid, muscle edema, subcutaneous edema, and juxtacortical edema. The overall longitudinal extent of signal alterations was measured as well as the distance from Lister's tubercle to the crossover of the first and second DETC.
Results: Review of the MRIs showed increased intrasubstance tendon signal suggesting tendinosis in two of the six patients, peritendinous edema or fluid in all six patients, muscle edema in five of the six patients, and subcutaneous edema in three of the six patients. Juxtacortical edema was seen in one patient. Peritendinous edema or fluid extended distally beyond the radiocarpal joint in three of the six patients. The average distance from Lister's tubercle to the crossover of the first and second DETC was 3.95 cm, in keeping with recently published data.
Conclusion: Intersection syndrome is an uncommon MRI diagnosis. In addition to the previously described MRI findings of edema adjacent to the first or second DETC, possibly with proximal extension and subcutaneous edema, we have identified additional abnormalities: tendinosis, muscle edema, and juxtacortical edema. In addition, our review shows that first and second DETC signal abnormalities in patients with intersection syndrome are not necessarily limited to the site of crossover but can extend distally beyond the radiocarpal joint. As standard wrist protocols may not include the area of intersection between the first and second DETC, coverage may need to be extended to the mid-forearm.