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Am J Phys Med. 1985 Feb;64(1):1-9.

Effect of therapeutic ultrasound intensity on subcutaneous tissue temperature and ulnar nerve conduction velocity.


Twenty subjects completed 5 min. periods of sonation, at each of six US intensities, over the ulnar nerve in the proximal forearm. All posttreatment NCV's differed significantly from the respective pretreatment velocities. The immediate posttreatment NCV associated with placebo US was significantly (p less than 0.01) less than that observed immediately pretreatment (2.81 m/s), while the five clinical US intensities produced significantly increased immediate posttreatment velocities: 0.5 w/cm2 (2.23 m/s) at (p less than 0.05), and 1.0 w/cm2 (2.78 m/s), 1.5 w/cm2 (3.15 m/s), 2.0 w/cm2 (4.47 m/s) and 2.5 w/cm2 (2.97 m/s) at (p less than 0.01). The posttreatment velocities associated with the five clinical intensities were all significantly greater (p less than 0.01) than that associated with placebo US. Subcutaneous tissue temperatures were directly related to the intensity of US. Not until US intensity had reached 1.5 w/cm2 did the heating effect of US negate the cooling effect of the US transmission gel, to produce significantly increased subcutaneous tissue temperatures after 5 min. sonation. The decreased ulnar motor NCV's associated with placebo US are attributed to the cooling effect of the US transmission gel. The increased ulnar motor NCV's associated with the clinical intensities of US are attributed to the deep heating effect of US. The breakdown of this linear relationship at 2.5 w/cm2 intensity suggests that at this point heating on the nerve and/or the mechanical effects of US were of sufficient magnitude so as to limit the increase in conduction velocity. Sonation over an area of approximately 4.5 times the soundhead for 5 min., along the proximal forearm, at clinical intensities did not have a bipositive effect on motor NCV.

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