Evaluation of peripheral nerves of the upper limb with ultrasonography: a comparison of ultrasonographic examination and the intra-operative findings

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2009 Jun;91(6):762-5. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.91B6.22284.


We prospectively studied 26 consecutive patients with clinically documented sensory or motor deficiency of a peripheral nerve due to trauma or entrapment using ultrasound, and in 19 cases surgical exploration of the nerves was undertaken. The ultrasonographic diagnoses were correlated with neurological examination and the surgical findings. Reliable visualisation of injured nerves on ultrasonography was achieved in all patients. Axonal swelling and hypoechogenity of the nerve was diagnosed in 15 cases, loss of continuity of a nerve bundle in 17, the formation of a neuroma of a stump in six, and partial laceration of a nerve with loss of the normal fascicular pattern in five. The ultrasonographic findings were confirmed at operation in those who had surgery. Ultrasound may be used for the evaluation of peripheral nerve injuries in the upper limb. High-resolution ultrasound can show the exact location, extent and type of lesion, yielding important information that might not be obtainable by other diagnostic aids.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Humeral Fractures / complications
  • Intraoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intraoperative Complications / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculocutaneous Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Musculocutaneous Nerve / injuries
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radial Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Radial Nerve / injuries*
  • Radial Nerve / surgery
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ulnar Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Ulnar Nerve / injuries*
  • Ulnar Nerve / surgery
  • Ultrasonography
  • Upper Extremity / diagnostic imaging
  • Upper Extremity / innervation*
  • Upper Extremity / surgery
  • Young Adult