Neuromuscular ultrasound of the brachial plexus: A standardized approach

Muscle Nerve. 2018 Nov;58(5):618-624. doi: 10.1002/mus.26144. Epub 2018 Jun 15.


Reliable assessment of brachial plexus disorders can be challenging due to the complexity of the anatomy and variation of potential pathology. Electrodiagnostic testing can be both uncomfortable for the patient and inconclusive. Ultrasound can serve as a complement to clinical assessment, electrodiagnostic testing, and other imaging modalities. This study describes a systematic approach for performing neuromuscular ultrasound for suspected pathology in the brachial plexus. The literature regarding techniques for brachial plexus ultrasound was reviewed. A team composed of specialists in neurology, physiatry, anesthesiology, orthopedic surgery, and vascular surgery used this as the basis for describing standardized techniques for performing brachial plexus ultrasound. Four standard views, along with other supplemental views, are described for the evaluation of the brachial plexus. An illustrative case is presented. Ultrasound is a high-resolution point of care diagnostic tool that allows assessment of structural pathology affecting the brachial plexus. Muscle Nerve 58: 618-624, 2018.

Keywords: brachial plexus; electromyography; nerve conduction; plexopathy; thoracic outlet syndrome; ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brachial Plexus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brachial Plexus Neuropathies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures / standards*
  • Humans
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / standards*