Ultrasound assessment of selected peripheral nerve pathologies. Part III: Injuries and postoperative evaluation

Berta Kowalska1, Iwona Sudoł-Szopińska2

Affiliation and address for correspondence
J Ultrason 2012; 13 (52): 82–92

The previous articles of the series devoted to ultrasound diagnostics of peripheral nerves concerned the most common nerve pathologies, i.e. entrapment  neuropathies. The aim of the last part of the series is to present ultrasound possibilities in the postoperative control of the peripheral nerves as well as in the diagnostics of the second most common neuropathies of peripheral nerves, i.e. posttraumatic lesions. Early diagnostics of posttraumatic changes is of fundamental importance for the course of treatment and its long-term effects. It aids surgeons in making treatment decisions (whether surgical or conservative). When surgical treatment is necessary, the surgeon, based on US findings, is able to plan a given type of operative method. In certain cases, may even abandon the corrective or reconstructive surgery of the nerve trunk (when there are extensive defects of the nerve trunks) and instead, proceed with muscle transfers. Medical literature proposes a range of divisions of the kinds of peripheral nerve injuries depending on, among others, the mechanism or degree of damage. However, the most important issue in the surgeon-diagnostician communication is a detailed description of stumps of the nerve trunks, their distance and location. In the postoperative period, ultrasound is used for monitoring the operative or conservative treatment effects including the determination of the causes of a persistent or recurrent neuropathy. It facilitates decision-making concerning a repeated surgical procedure or assuming a wait-and-see attitude. It is a difficult task for a diagnostician and it requires experience, close cooperation with a clinician and knowledge concerning surgical techniques. Apart from a static assessment, a dynamic assessment of possible adhesions constitutes a crucial element of postoperative examination. This feature distinguishes ultrasound scanning from other methods used in the
diagnostics of peripheral neuropathies.

peripheral neuropathies, nerve injuries, ultrasound, posttraumatic lesions, postoperative complications, secondary neuropathies