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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr 22

J Ultrasound

Carpal tunnel sonography.


Gervasio A, Stelitano C, Bollani P, Giardini A, Vanzetti E, Ferrari M
J Ultrasound. 2020 Apr 22.
PMID: 32323256.


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most frequent entrapment neuropathy of peripheral nerves, with an incidence of 1-3 patients in 1000. CTS typically occurs between 45 and 60 years of age, and it is more frequent in women than in men. The main cause of CTS is chronic compression of the median nerve and ischemic suffering secondary to increased pressure in the carpal tunnel. There are many possible causes of CTS, which can be differentiated into idiopathic causes, which include most cases, and secondary causes. Classical CTS diagnosis is based on the patient's clinical examination and electrophysiological tests, such as electromyography and nerve conduction studies. The latter are helpful for determining the site of nerve compression, assessing its severity, monitoring the course of the disease after therapy, and excluding other causes of median nerve pain, such as cervical radiculopathies, brachial plexopathies, polyneuropathy, or other forms of mononeuropathies. However, clinical examination and electrophysiological tests are not able to differentiate idiopathic forms from secondary forms of CTS, and discrepancies are possible between clinical examination and electrophysiological tests (false negatives). Ultrasound examination is able to recognize most of the secondary forms of CTS. It can evaluate the morphological alterations of the nerve and correlate them with the severity of nerve suffering in all cases, even idiopathic ones, with a sensitivity and specificity equal to those of electrophysiological tests. It can also highlight some anatomical predisposing variants or conditions that may represent contraindications to minimally invasive treatments. Ultrasound examination also plays a fundamental role in evaluating patients with an unfavorable outcome after surgical treatment.