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Quant Imaging Med Surg. 2019 Feb;9(2):273-282. doi: 10.21037/qims.2019.02.05.

Shear wave elastography evaluation of the median and tibial nerve in diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

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Department of Ultrasound, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China.



To evaluate the value of shear wave elastography (SWE) in the detection of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) of the median and tibial nerves.


The study included 40 DPN patients, 40 diabetic mellitus (DM) patients without DPN, and 40 healthy subjects. High-resolution ultrasonography (US) and SWE were performed on the median nerve (MN) and tibial nerve (TN), and cross-sectional area (CSA) and nerve stiffness were measured. ROC analysis was also performed.


The patients with DPN demonstrated higher stiffness of the median and tibial nerve compared with that of healthy volunteers and DM patients (P<0.001). Bilateral analysis showed that there was no significant difference in nerve stiffness between the left and right median nerves and tibial nerves in DPN patients (P>0.05). The stiffness of median nerve and tibial nerve in each one side also had no significant difference in patients with DPN (P>0.05). The CSA of the tibial nerve in the DPN group was significantly larger than that in the other groups (P<0.001), while there was no significant difference of median nerve CSA among the three groups (P>0.05). The area under curve (AUC) of SWE (MN: 0.899, TN: 0.927) to diagnose DPN was significantly greater than that of CSA (TN: 0.798). The optimal cut-off value in SWE of the tibial nerve and median nerve for diagnosis of DPN was 4.11 and 4.06 m/s, respectively, with a good sensitivity and specificity.


Median and tibial nerve stiffness was significantly higher in patients with DPN. These findings suggest that SWE-based stiffness measurement of the nerve was a better method than CSA, and it can be used as another effective assistant method in the diagnosis of DPN.


Diabetic polyneuropathy; cross-sectional area (CSA); shear wave elastography; ultrasonography

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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