Making nerves visible
High-resolution nerve ultrasound (also known as neurosonography or nerve sonography) is a diagnostic method that makes it possible to visualize nerve damages. Compared to an MRI examination, nerve ultrasound enables a higher resolution and also allows to visualize damages to small nerves.
Damage to peripheral nerves is not uncommon
They often occur as a result of accidents. For example, in the course of a bone fracture, an injury to a nerve can occur simultaneously. Sometimes unintentional damage to a nerve also occurs during an operation. Nerve compression syndromes (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome, sulcus ulnaris syndrome, piriformis syndrome) are a further problem. External pressure/compression causes nerve damage. Nerves have to pass through anatomical narrowings in many parts of the body. Various processes can lead to nerve irritation and/or compression at these sites.
Information gain for diagnosis and therapy
Nerve ultrasound helps to document the exact location and extent of an injury. Furthermore, the severity of a lesion can be estimated. Other influencing factors (e.g. ganglia, scar tissue, ...) may often play an important role - they can generally be well delineated with ultrasound. This sonographically obtained information represents decisive elements in the diagnosis and contributes to a solution-oriented therapy planning.
Another great advantage is that targeted injections or infiltrations (= syringes) can be carried out under ultrasound. On the one hand, diagnostic infiltrations are of central importance because they make it possible to identify pain mechanisms. On the other hand, they also allow to form important conclusions for therapy planning, e.g. in relation to a planned operation. Increasingly, injections with a therapeutic goal are also performed under ultrasound control. Examples are cryoneurolysis, pulsed radiofrequency therapy or peripheral nerve stimulation.
Suitable for follow-up examinations
Unlike other radiological/imaging methods, ultrasound examinations are quick and convenient. In addition, medical ultrasound has no significant side effects and consequences. Ultrasound is considered de facto risk-free and is therefore also particularly suitable for follow-up examinations.
Zarina S.A. et al., Ultrasonographic Evaluation of Peripheral Nerves. World Neurosurgery. Vol 85, January 2016, 333-339
Soneji N. et al., Ultrasound-Guided Pain Interventions - A Review of Techniques for Peripheral Nerves. Korean J Pain. 2013 Apr; 26(2): 111–124.