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Dynamic Evaluation of Intraneural Microvascularity of the Ulnar Nerve Using Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasonography in Patients With Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Published:August 27, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2021.06.024

      Purpose

      The purpose of this study was to compare the intraneural microvascular patterns of the ulnar nerve at 2 elbow flexion angles in asymptomatic volunteers and patients with cubital tunnel syndrome (CuTS) and to evaluate the effects of surgery on the microvascular pattern in patients with CuTS by using contrast-enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS).

      Methods

      This study included 10 elbows in 10 asymptomatic volunteers (control group) and 10 elbows in 10 patients with CuTS who underwent anterior subcutaneous transposition of the ulnar nerve (CuTS group). The CuTS group underwent clinical and electrophysiologic examinations and CEUS before surgery and at 1, 2, and 3 months after surgery. The intraneural enhancement pattern was calculated as an area under the curve (AUC) value in the entrapment site of the ulnar nerve within the cubital tunnel and in the area 1 cm proximal to the site (proximal site) at elbow flexion angles of 20° and 110°.

      Results

      Serial electrophysiologic examinations showed improvements at 1, 2, and 3 months after surgery compared with before surgery. In the control group, the AUC values of the central part of the cubital tunnel and proximal sites showed no substantial changes with the increase in elbow flexion. In the CuTS group, the AUC in the proximal site at 110° of elbow flexion was decreased compared with that at 20° of flexion before surgery. The AUC values for both the entrapment and proximal sites at 20° and 110° of elbow flexion were the most increased at 2 months after surgery compared with before surgery.

      Conclusions

      Increased elbow flexion in patients with CuTS influences the intraneural blood flow of the ulnar nerve. Surgery for CuTS alters the intraneural blood flow.

      Clinical relevance

      Quantitative evaluation of the intraneural blood flow of the ulnar nerve using CEUS may be a new supplementary diagnostic tool for CuTS and an indicator for the evaluation of postoperative recovery from nerve damage.

      Key words

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