Diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome using Shear Wave Elastography and High-frequency Ultrasound Imaging

Acad Radiol. 2021 Sep;28(9):e278-e287. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2020.08.011. Epub 2020 Sep 11.


Objectives: The performance of ultrasound features from shear wave elastography (SWE) and high-frequency ultrasound imaging was evaluated independently and in combination to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Materials and methods: Twenty-five subjects were imaged in a sitting position with an arm extended and palm facing up. SWE of the medial nerve (MN) was acquired at the wrist level (site 1) and proximal to the pronator quadratus muscle (site 2). Cross-sectional area (CSA) and vascularity of the MN were assessed at the wrist using a 24 MHz probe. Color and power Doppler imaging (CDI and PDI), monochrome and color-coded Superb Microvascular Imaging (SMI) were performed for vascularity assessments. The diagnosis and severity of CTS was determined by clinical and electrodiagnostic tests. Diagnostic performance of the ultrasound features was assessed by t-tests, ANOVAs, and ROC analysis.

Results: The study included 20 control hands and 27 hands with CTS. All ultrasound features except for the stiffness ratio were significantly different between the CTS and control wrists (p<0.04). The stiffness of MN at site 1 showed a higher accuracy than at site 2. The combination of CSA and MN stiffness from site 2 showed an overall accuracy of 95% with a specificity and sensitivity of 100% and 93%, respectively. The CSA, MN stiffness from site 2, and CDI combination improved the accuracy to 96% with specificity and sensitivity of 100% and 93%, respectively. However, no ultrasound features (independently or in combination) differentiated all stages of CTS severity.

Conclusions: SWE with high-frequency ultrasound imaging showed potential for the diagnosis of CTS.

Keywords: Carpal tunnel syndrome; Diagnostic performance; High-frequency ultrasound; Shear wave elastography; Superb Microvascular Imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome* / diagnostic imaging
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Median Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography
  • Wrist / diagnostic imaging