Cross-sectional area reference values for nerve ultrasonography



Ultrasound allows for a non-invasive structural assessment of nerves, muscles, and surrounding tissues, and therefore it is increasingly being used as a supplement to traditional electrodiagnostic studies. As investigators have begun to use ultrasound to explore peripheral nerves, it has become clear that conditions such as entrapment, hereditary neuropathies, acquired neuropathies, trauma, and nerve tumors result in an increase in nerve cross-sectional area. Reference values have not been published for the cross-sectional area of many nerves commonly studied in diseases of the peripheral nervous system, so our goal was to obtain reference values for the nerve cross-sectional area at the following sites: radial at antecubital fossa; radial at distal spiral groove; musculocutaneous in upper arm; trunks of the brachial plexus; vagus at carotid bifurcation; sciatic in distal thigh; tibial in popliteal fossa; tibial in proximal calf; tibial at ankle; peroneal in popliteal fossa; peroneal at fibular head; and sural in distal calf. Mean cross-sectional area, as well as side-to-side differences, are reported for each site, and qualitative data are provided to guide imaging at each site. The information provided in this study should serve as the starting point for quantitatively evaluating these nerve sites with ultrasound. Muscle Nerve, 2008