We think nerve ultrasound is a great tool. You are not convinced? Ok, we will take the challenge. Get ready to change your mind after reading this list:
- It´s your perfect complementary diagnostic tool
Wham. The absolutely most important point right away. Clinical examination guides you along the way when assessing patients with peripheral nerve disorders. Additional examinations then help you to objectify the deficits that you have detected. Electrodiagnostics are great in giving us the functional status of the nerve. But the only way to see what is actually going on in the nerve or in the surroundings of the nerve is imaging! A moderate to severe carpal tunnel syndrome in electrodiagnostics? Yes, but that it is caused by a tenosynovitis of flexor tendons can only be seen with ultrasound. Get the point? Add the morphologic component to the functional status.
- It´s safe, non-invasive and radiation free
Nerve ultrasound comes without contraindications. Pacemakers and implants might prevent you from performing MRI or nerve conduction studies in the proximal segments of nerves. CT and X-ray come with radiation. Electromyography cannot be performed in people under anticoagulant therapy. Ultrasound can be used in every condition, totally side effect free.
- It is a quick bed-side tool
Ultrasound of nerves does not take long as soon as you have got some routine. In five minutes you can reliably assess a nerve throughout its whole visible course – and this applies to the nerves of the upper extremity, which you can follow during their whole course. Others take even less time.
- It is a cheap method
MRI is able to produce results similar to ultrasound. But of course the costs of operating an MRI are much much higher than operating an ultrasound machine. Ultrasound means one investment leading to endless possibilities. High quality equipment is getting cheaper these days, thereby supporting the use of the method – a fact we really appreciate J
- You can perform functional assessment
Some pathologies only become visible during action. The most famous example may be thoracic outlet syndrome. While at rest everything looks normal, changing the patient´s position to the one in which his or her symptoms would usually appear, can totally change the picture and unmask a pathology that would otherwise be missed.
- You can assess nerves all along their course
You scan a patient with suspected carpal tunnel syndrome. The median nerve looks normal at the wrist. What if the lesion is unexpectedly a little more proximal? While in MRi you have to plan your examination and define an area you want to scan, ultrasound allows you to assess a nerve along its whole course. By just sweeping the probe. If necessary, you can go up to the roots at the upper extremity!
With ultrasound you are not limited to a special nerve segment or nerve.
- You can compare sides
Every human is unique. Is this nerve already enlarged or just normal in this tall person? Well, if you are dealing with a unilateral disorder, you have an internal reference right there available right there: the other side.
- You use patient´s favorite diagnostic tool
Ultrasound is a diagnostic tool that is highly appreciated by patients. They will usually love to cooperate. Especially after they have undergone electrodiagnostic testing which – from their point of view – consists of being tortured with current and needles stuck into their body. If you then say “ we are now gonna have a look at your nerves with ultrasound” you will usually see a smile and relief brightening up their faces. A clear case of win-win.
- You can perform it (nearly) everywhere
What do you need for your perfect ultrasound scan? Right. A room that can be darkened, an ultrasound platform with the right probes and… yourself. Nothing else.
- You can perform instant, targeted therapy
You have a patient with a neuropathic pain syndrome? You could even detect the site of damage? That is great. But what is even greater is that in the next minute you can already perform ultrasound controlled blocking of the injured nerve, thereby providing at least short-term relief of pain.
According to our experience, these are the main reasons why nerve ultrasound really adds value to your daily practice. We hope you now agree with us and grab a probe. If you stumble upon a question – contact us.
We have missed YOUR most important point? Then let us know! Just drop us a post on facebook or send us an email! We are curious to know!