Objectives: To evaluate the following points about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS): 1) characterization of a wide population; 2) sensitivity of electrodiagnostic tests, and particularly the contribution of disto-proximal ratio test; 3) validity of a neurophysiological classification developed by us.
Material and methods: Prospective study in 500 hands with CTS symptoms. Neurophysiological "standard" tests were always performed: sensory nerve conduction velocity (SNCV) first- and third digit-wrist and distal motor latency (DML). In "standard negative" hands disto-proximal ratio technique (R) was performed. Neurophysiological classification: Extreme CTS (absence of median motor, sensory responses), Severe (absence of sensory response, abnormal DML), Moderate (abnormal SNCV, abnormal DML), Mild (abnormal SNCV, normal DML), Minimal (abnormal R or other segmental/comparative test, normal standard tests).
Results: Sensibility of standard tests: 77%. R increased the diagnostic yield by 20%. CTS classification appeared reliable with significant differences between groups.
Conclusion: R is a useful test, the classification may be useful in clinical/therapeutical decisions.