Nerve Ultrasound Allows Exact Diagnosis, Therapy of Nerve Injuries
Nerve ultrasound has rapidly developed into a more precise and easily applied diagnostic tool. People suffering from injuries of peripheral nerves that require reconstructive plastic surgery often have many surgeries and associated pain. However, with nerve ultrasound, this pain can be truncated; an ultrasound-supported view into the patient's neural pathways can help physicians take more precise and faster measures during diagnosis or therapy. With their research at the clinical divisions for neuroradiology and muscular-skeletal radiology, the Medical University of Vienna in Austria (MedUni Vienna) has worked towards the rapid development of these new ultrasound methods.

Along with the illustration of frequent bottleneck syndromes of the hand, such as carpal tunnel syndrome (injury of the middle arm nerve in the carpus) and the cubital tunnel syndrome (injury of the ulna nerve), the high-resolution sonography with up to 22 MHz probes continues to permit new ranges of application in identifying nerve injuries—for example, after the implantation of cruciate ligament plastics at the knee or tumor formations at sensory nerves (neuromas).

"With the aid of the new ultrasound equipment, we managed to very precisely illustrate the peripheral neural pathways and examine them," says Georg Riegler, MD, of the University Clinic for Radiology and Nuclear Medicine of MedUni Vienna on the occasion of the European Society of Radiology meeting, held from March 2 to 6 in Vienna, Austria. This allows the radiologists to precisely diagnose whether it is a matter of neural injury, as well as the type [of injury] or whether a tumor is causing the problems; this also includes the precise location of the lesion on the nerve. Riegler says, "With the aid of the sonography, we are able to see the origin of the nerve, where it goes, and how it progresses. This is particularly important for preoperative diagnostics."

As it relates to the therapy, this means that the intervention can be placed more accurately; for example, it is possible to determine, to the micrometer, where a ganglion (neural tumor) has to be tapped in order to remove it. The same applies for radiofrequency therapy, whereby high-frequency electricity fields are used to destroy the pathological neural tissue with heat. "In both cases, ultrasound helps us to see precisely where we can and should place the needle," Riegler explains.

These improved options not only represent significant savings in resources and medication but also shorten hospital stays and reduce the number of surgical procedures.
Source: Medical University of Vienna