JOURNAL ARTICLE

Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging analysis of the cross-sectional areas of the anconeus epitrochlearis muscle, cubital tunnel, and ulnar nerve with the elbow in extension in patients with and without ulnar neuropathy

Hing Y Eng, Drew A Gunio, Carlos L Benitez
Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery 2018, 27 (7): 1306-1310
29754844

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to assess the cross-sectional area of the anconeus epitrochlearis muscle (AEM), cubital tunnel, and ulnar nerve with the elbow in extension in patients with and without ulnar neuropathy.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective, level IV review of elbow magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies. Elbow MRI studies of 32 patients with an AEM (26 men and 6 women, aged 18-60 years), 32 randomly selected patients without an AEM (aged 16-71 years), and 32 patients with clinical ulnar neuritis (22 men and 10 women, aged 24-76 years) were reviewed. We evaluated the ulnar nerve cross-sectional area proximal to, within, and distal to the cubital tunnel; AEM cross-sectional area; and cubital tunnel cross-sectional area.

RESULTS: We found no significant difference in the nerve caliber between patients with and without an AEM. No correlation was found between the AEM cross-sectional area and ulnar nerve cross-sectional area within the cubital tunnel (r = 0.14). The mean cubital tunnel cross-sectional area was larger in patients with an AEM. Only 4 of the 32 patients with an AEM had findings of ulnar neuritis on MRI. Of the 32 patients with a clinical diagnosis of ulnar neuritis, only 2 had an AEM.

CONCLUSIONS: With the elbow in extension, the presence or cross-sectional area of an AEM does not correlate with the area of the ulnar nerve or cubital tunnel. Only a small number of individuals with MRI evidence of an AEM had clinical evidence of ulnar neuropathy. Likewise, MRI evidence of an AEM was found in only a small number of individuals with clinical evidence of ulnar neuropathy.

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