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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2008 Jul;191(1):107-14. doi: 10.2214/AJR.07.3383.

High-resolution sonography of the palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve.

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Cattedra di Radiologia R DICMI, Università di Genova, Largo Rosanna Benzi 8, I-16132 Genova, Italy.



The aim of this study was to describe the potential value of high-resolution sonography for evaluation of the palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve (MN).


The volar wrists of 12 healthy volunteers and 22 consecutive patients with sensory deficit in the palmar triangle and thenar eminence suggesting neuropathy of the palmar cutaneous branch of the MN were examined with high-frequency sonography. Nine patients underwent carpal tunnel release, five had a history of penetrating trauma, six had symptoms suggesting concurrent carpal tunnel syndrome, one received surgery for palmaris tendon transfer, and one underwent resection of a ventral carpal ganglion cyst. Correlative 1.5-T MRI was performed in six patients.


In 83% of the healthy volunteers, 17-5-MHz sonography was able to identify the palmar cutaneous branch of the MN from its origin down to slightly distal to the wrist crease. In the patient group, sonography allowed detection of nerve abnormalities in 55% of the cases. Focal hypoechoic swelling of the nerve at the fascial crossing was observed in patients who had either concurrent carpal tunnel syndrome (four cases) or previous carpal tunnel release (three cases). Sonography performed after a penetrating trauma revealed nerve encasement by scar tissue (two cases) or complete transection of the nerve ending in a terminal neuroma (one case). Nerve transection secondary to resection of a ventral carpal ganglion cyst (one case) or to carpal tunnel release (one case) was also observed.


Sonography can identify the palmar cutaneous branch of the MN and characterize its abnormalities, providing unique information about this small nerve branch.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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