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Somatosensory evoked potentials fail to diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome.

Somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) are used in the diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), even as an indication for surgery. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of SEPs in the diagnosis of TOS. Twenty-one patients (mean age, 37 years) with TOS and 23 control subjects (mean age, 34 years) were included. Somatosensory evoked potentials of median and ulnar nerves were measured bilaterally in patients in both a relaxed and arms-elevated provocative position. A three-way analysis of variance showed no significant difference between the interpeak latencies of the TOS and control groups (p = .352). Significant differences were found in testing positions (p = .0014) and nerve tested (p = .001) in both groups. Therefore, this study suggests that SEPs are not helpful in the diagnosis of TOS.

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