The role of ultrasound imaging in the evaluation of peripheral nerve in systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)

Alberto Tagliafico, Nicoletta Panico, Eugenia Resmini, Lorenzo E. Derchi, Massimo Ghio, Carlo Martinoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patients affected by scleroderma may complain of sensory disturbances especially in the hands. Purpose: To study the imaging features of upper limb nerves in patients affected by scleroderma (SSc). Materials and method: Twenty-five patients affected only by SSc were prospectively evaluated with high-resolution US and magnetic resonance (MRI) or computer tomography (CT) when necessary (2 patients). Median and ulnar nerves were evaluated bilaterally. Nerve conduction studies were performed in the symptomatic patients (n = 10). Results of imaging studies were correlated with disease duration, autoimmunity and immunosuppression. Nerves of SSc patients were compared with a control group of 90 patients matched for age and body mass index. Results: The prevalence of sensory disturbances revealed by clinical examination was 40%. In symptomatic SSc patients (n = 10) US evaluation revealed nerve abnormalities in 70% of cases (n = 7/10). n = 2 had a carpal tunnel syndrome. n = 5 had cubital tunnel syndrome. In two of them CT and MR were necessary to identify the compressed nerve at the level of the elbow due to the presence of calcifications. There was no association between the presence of an entrapment neuropathy and disease duration, autoantibodies and immunosuppression. Conclusion: Ultrasound, CT and MR may detect nerve abnormalities in 70% of SSc patients complaining of neurologic disturbances in the hands. The results of imaging studies support the hypothesis of a vascular dependent neuropathy in SSc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-382
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Nerve
  • Scleroderma
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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