ISSN: 1899-0967
Polish Journal of Radiology
Established by prof. Zygmunt Grudziński in 1926 Sun
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vol. 84

Ultrasound elastography in the evaluation of peripheral neuropathies: a systematic review of the literature

Jakub Zakrzewski
Katarzyna Zakrzewska
Katarzyna Pluta
Oleg Nowak
Anna Miłoszewska-Paluch

Pol J Radiol 2019; 84: e581-e591
Online publish date: 2020/12/21
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Peripheral neuropathy is associated with an increase in intraneural pressure, and hence ultrasound elastography seems to be an ideal method to detect early stages of this condition based on changes in the affected nerve stiffness. The aim of this systematic review was to analyse the applicability of strain elastography (SE) and shear wave elastography (SWE) in the evaluation of peripheral nerves in patients with neuropathy of various aetiologies. Published evidence shows clearly that ultrasound elastography can accurately diagnose many types of peripheral neuropathies (carpal tunnel syndrome and other entrapment neuropathies, diabetic peripheral neuropathy and peripheral neuropathy associated with other systemic diseases), sometimes at the stages at which the condition is still asymptomatic. However, it is still unclear whether elastographic changes within the nerves precede functional anomalies detectable on nerve conduction studies. Also, relatively little is known about the relationship between the stiffness of peripheral nerves and the severity of peripheral neuropathy and its underlying condition. Based on the reproducibility data, SWE seems to be superior to SE. Nevertheless, the sources of heterogeneity in the peripheral nerve stiffness in healthy persons need to be identified, and the sets of reference values for specific peripheral nerves need to be determined. Finally, the potential confounding effect of hardening artefacts, such as bones, on the stiffness of peripheral nerves needs to be verified. After addressing all these issues, elastographic evaluation of peripheral nerve stiffness might become a reliable, easily accessible, and convenient diagnostic test performed routinely in patients with various peripheral neuropathies.

elastography, carpal tunnel syndrome, entrapment neuropathy, peripheral diabetic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy

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