MRI of thoracic outlet syndrome in children.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by compression of the neurovascular bundle as it passes from the upper thorax to the axilla. The neurovascular bundle can be compressed by bony structures such as the first rib, cervical ribs or bone tubercles, or from soft-tissue abnormalities like a fibrous band, muscle hypertrophy or space-occupying lesion. Thoracic outlet syndrome commonly affects young adults but can be seen in the pediatric age group, especially in older children. Diagnosis is based on a holistic approach encompassing clinical features, physical examination findings including those triggered by various maneuvers, electromyography, nerve conduction studies and imaging. Imaging is performed to confirm the diagnosis, exclude mimics and classify thoracic outlet syndrome into neurogenic, arterial, venous or mixed causes. MRI and MR angiography are useful in this process. A complete MRI examination for suspected thoracic outlet syndrome should include the assessment of anatomy and any abnormalities using routine sequences, vessel assessment with the arms in adduction by MR angiography and assessment of dynamic compression of vessels with abduction of the arms. The purpose of this paper is to describe the anatomy of the thoracic outlet, causes of thoracic outlet syndrome, the MR imaging techniques used in its diagnosis and the principles of image interpretation.
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