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Radiol Bras. 2018 Nov-Dec;51(6):358-365. doi: 10.1590/0100-3984.2017.0083.

Value of ultrasound in the anatomical evaluation of the brachial plexus: correlation with magnetic resonance imaging.

Author information

Instituto de Radiologia do Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo (InRad/HC-FMUSP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



To assess the accuracy of ultrasound in the visualization of the brachial plexus and to determine the value of the method in comparison with that of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Materials and Methods:

This was an anatomical study of the brachial plexuses of 20 asymptomatic adults (40 plexuses), comparing ultrasound and MRI in terms of their accuracy. In the ultrasound study, a high-frequency linear transducer was used, and a neurovascular coil was used in the MRI study. To estimate the frequency of visualization, the brachial plexus was divided into segments.


The cervical nerve roots, the upper trunk, and the middle trunk were the segments that were best visualized on ultrasound. On MRI, the degree of visualization was excellent for most of the segments. In the comparison between ultrasound and MRI, the C6, C7, upper trunk, and middle trunk segments showed equivalent degrees of visualization, with a high level of agreement between the two methods.


In the brachial plexus, ultrasound can be used in the assessment of the cervical nerve roots, as well as of the upper and middle trunks, although it provides limited visualization of the remaining segments. Ultrasound and MRI showed a high level of agreement for the visualization of the C6, C7, and middle trunk segments.


Brachial plexus/anatomy & histology; Magnetic resonance imaging; Ultrasonography

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