Contribution of ultrasound in the assessment of nerve diseases


L. Padua, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Largo Francesco Vito n. 1, 00168 Roma, Italy (tel.: +39(0) 630 156623; fax: +39(0) 635 501909; e-mail:


Background and purpose:  Recently, ultrasound (US) has been used to assess the peripheral nervous system; however, there is no real study about its possible significant role in routine practice. Our study aims to assess the contribution of US as a routine tool in a neurophysiological laboratory.

Methods:  The study assesses 130 patients who presented clinical suspicion of peripheral nerve diseases, excluding motor neuron disease, radiculopathy, hereditary and acquired polyneuropathy. All patients were clinically, neurophysiologically and sonographically assessed in the same session by the same neurologist/neurophysiologist. To avoid interpretation bias, two independent and blinded clinicians, different than the examiners performing electrodiagnosis and US, reviewed clinical, neurophysiological and US findings (also data about follow-up, when available) and classified the contribution of US as follows: Contributive (US had influence on the diagnostic and therapeutic strategies), Confirming (US confirmed the clinical and neurophysiological diagnosis), Non-Confirming (US findings were normal) and Incorrect (US findings led to incorrect diagnosis).

Results:  US impacted, namely modified the diagnostic and therapeutic path in 42.3% of cases (55 patients); US had a confirmatory role in 40% (52 patients); US did not confirm clinical and neurophysiological diagnosis in 17.7% (23 cases); no incorrect US findings were observed.

Conclusion:  US complements neurophysiological assessment even in routine practice, and this confirms the increasing interest in US for a multidimensional evaluation of peripheral nerve system diseases.