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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1999 Jun;172(6):1581-6.

Quantitative MR imaging of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Previous MR imaging studies have produced evidence of changes to structures within the wrist believed to be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. In an attempt to resolve the conflicting and inconclusive results of these studies, we report here the results of an MR imaging study at a field strength of 3.0 T, which is higher than that previously reported.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome and control groups of asymptomatic subjects were studied using MR imaging. We evaluated electrophysiologically the median nerve function of the affected wrists of all patients. A gradient-recalled echo pulse sequence was used to study 13 3-mm-thick slices within the wrist of each patient or asymptomatic subject. Spatial resolution was approximately 0.3 x 0.3 mm2. The median nerve and other structures associated with the carpal tunnel, which were clearly shown on the MR images, were analyzed to yield structural data.

RESULTS:

Analysis revealed that the cross-sectional area of the nerve within and proximal to the carpal tunnel was approximately 50% larger in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome than in asymptomatic subjects. We found no significant difference in the area of the nerve within the carpal tunnel compartment compared with the area of the nerve proximal to the carpal tunnel either in patients or in asymptomatic subjects. Also, flattening of the nerve on entering the carpal tunnel was not significantly different in patients than in asymptomatic subjects. In patients an increase in the palmar bowing of the flexor retinaculum was found only at the level of the hamate compared with that found in asymptomatic subjects. The cross-sectional area of the carpal tunnel was of a similar size in patients and in asymptomatic subjects. Comparison of electrodiagnostic results indicated no correlations between the MR parameters and electrophysiologic dysfunction of the median nerve for patients.

CONCLUSION:

The only statistically significant differences found between patients with carpal tunnel syndrome and asymptomatic subjects were that the median nerve was approximately 50% larger within and proximal to the carpal tunnel in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome and palmar bowing of the flexor retinaculum occurred in patients only at the level of the hamate.

PMID:
10350293
DOI:
10.2214/ajr.172.6.10350293
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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