High-resolution ultrasonography for the diagnosis of brachial plexus root lesions

Yong-Sheng Zhu, Nan-Nan Mu, Min-Juan Zheng, Yun-Chu Zhang, Hua Feng, Rui Cong, Xiao-Dong Zhou, Ding-Zhang Chen
Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology 2014, 40 (7): 1420-6
The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using high-resolution ultrasonography in the diagnosis of brachial plexus (BP) root lesions. A prospective study of ultrasonographic evaluation of BP nerve roots was performed in 37 patients with BP root lesions (29 with root injuries, 8 with tumors). The pre-operative ultrasonographic findings were compared with the surgical and pathohistological findings. All C5-7 roots were detected by ultrasonography in all patients, whereas 92% (68/74) of C8 and 51% (38/74) of T1 nerve roots were visualized. Among 29 patients with BP root avulsion, partial injuries or totally interrupted BP roots were detected in all patients. Cystic masses and neuromas were detected in 16 and 23 patients, respectively. In 8 patients with BP root tumors, 8 hypo-echoic masses were detected inside or partly outside of intervertebral foramina connecting to nerve roots. Surgical exploration revealed that there were 57 BP root avulsions in 29 patients. However, 2 T1 nerve root avulsions had been missed by pre-operative ultrasonography. Pathohistology revealed that all 8 BP root tumors pre-operatively diagnosed by ultrasonography were schwannomas. High-resolution ultrasonography can provide a convenient and accurate imaging modality for quick diagnosis and location of BP root lesions.

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