Usefulness of ultrasound for the diagnosis of pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis: A prospective single-center study of 57 cases

Hand Surg Rehabil. 2018 Apr;37(2):95-98. doi: 10.1016/j.hansur.2017.12.004. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis (PFT) is a functional emergency in hand surgery; however, its diagnosis can be difficult to make. It should always be considered when a patient presents with an inflamed finger. The goal of this study was to investigate the usefulness of ultrasound in the diagnosis of early PFT. Seventy-three patients with suspected pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis were candidates for the study. Since the diagnosis of PFT was obvious in 16 patients, they were excluded from the study and immediately underwent surgery. The remaining 57 patients underwent a clinical examination by a senior surgeon, a blood test for C-reactive protein levels and an ultrasound (US). The US results were compared to the intraoperative findings if the patients were operated or to the clinical outcome in non-operated patients. Seventeen patients had the US diagnosis of PFT confirmed intraoperatively. In 10 patients, the US diagnosis of PFT was not confirmed intraoperatively. In 29 other patients, the diagnosis of PFT was ruled out by US; they all had good outcomes after being treated with antibiotics. In one patient for whom the diagnosis of PFT had been ruled out by US, PFT was actually present. Ultrasound had 94% sensitivity, 65% specificity, 63% positive predictive value, and 95% negative predictive value. Ultrasound is useful as a diagnostic tool for managing early PFT thanks to its excellent negative predictive value and specificity. This objective examination complements the surgeon's subjective clinical examination.

Keywords: Dermohypodermal infection; Dermohypodermite bactérienne; Emergency; Flexor tendon digital sheath infection; Phlegmon des gaines digitales; Ultrasound; Urgence; Échographie.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Female
  • Fingers / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tenosynovitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult


  • C-Reactive Protein