Reliability of side-to-side ultrasound cross-sectional area measurements of lower extremity nerves in healthy subjects

Muscle Nerve. 2012 Nov;46(5):717-22. doi: 10.1002/mus.23417.


Introduction: In peripheral nerve ultrasound, the healthy contralateral side may be used as internal control. Therefore, inherent side-to-side differences must be minimal. The goal of this study was to assess intrastudy, intraobserver, and interobserver reproducibility of ultrasound in comparative side-to-side evaluation of lower limb nerves.

Methods: Lower limb nerves of 60 normal subjects were evaluated by 3 radiologists. Bilateral sciatic, tibial, common fibular, sural, lateral femoral cutaneous, femoral, obturator, and saphenous nerves were evaluated.

Results: Overall, side-to-side differences were not statistically significant at any level. In the lower limb nerves, in a between-limb comparison, the minimum detectable difference of cross-sectional area ranged from 16.4 mm(2) (sciatic nerve at the level of piriformis muscle) to 0.4 mm(2) (saphenous nerve).

Conclusion: In general, the healthy contralateral side can be used as an internal control.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / diagnostic imaging*
  • Leg / innervation*
  • Lumbosacral Plexus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult