Compliance assessment and flip-angle measurement of the median nerve: sonographic tools for carpal tunnel syndrome assessment?
OBJECTIVES: To assess the diagnostic performance of median nerve (MN) flip-angle measurements, deformation during wrist flexion [transit deformation coefficient (TDC)], during compression [compression deformation coefficient (CDC)] and fascicular freedom to potentially identify fibrotic MN changes in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
METHODS: This prospective study was performed with institutional review board approval; all participants provided oral and written informed consent. Wrists in 21 healthy participants and 29 patients with CTS were examined by ultrasound. MN movement during wrist flexion, MN deformation during transition over the flexor tendons (TDC) and during controlled compression (CDC) as well as fascicular freedom were assessed. Diagnostic properties of these parameters were calculated and compared to clinical findings and cross-section area measurements (ΔCSA).
RESULTS: Low flip angles were associated with high ΔCSA at a receiver-operator characteristics area under the curve (AUC) of 0.62 (0.51-0.74). TDC [AUC, 0.83 (0.73-0.92), 76.3% (59.8-88.6%) sensitivity, 88.5% (76.6-95.7%) specificity], restricted fascicular movement [AUC, 0.86 (0.78-0.94), 89.5% (75.2-97.1%) sensitivity, 80.8% (67.5-90.4%) specificity] and compression-based CDC [AUC, 0.97 (0.94-1.00), 82.1% (66.5-92.5%) sensitivity, 94.2% (84.1-98.8%) specificity] demonstrated substantial diagnostic power (95% confidence intervals in parentheses).
CONCLUSIONS: Fascicular mobility, TDC and CDC show substantial diagnostic power and may offer insights into the underlying pathophysiology of CTS.
KEY POINTS: • Dynamic ultrasonography during wrist flexion and compression enables median nerve deformability assessment. • Overall, reduced median nerve deformability is highly indicative of CTS. • Median nerve compressibility shows higher diagnostic power than conventional cross-section area measurements.