Ultrasonography of peripheral nerves

Carlo Martinoli, Giovanni Serafini, Stefano Bianchi, Michele Bertolotto, Nicola Gandolfo, Lorenzo E. Derchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During sonographic examination of the extremities using high frequency "small-parts" equipment, peripheral nerves may be identified in virtually all patients. Peripheral nerves have a typical ultrasonographic pattern that correlates well with histologic structure and facilitates differentiation between nerves and tendons. The ability of this technique to depict peripheral nerves makes it possible, in many instances, to study nerve abnormalities in trauma, entrapment syndromes and tumors. Ultrasound can enable differentiation of an endoneural from an extraneural space-occupying lesion and evaluation of the extent and consistence of the lesion, as well as the integrity and dynamic behavior of the nerve involved at follow-up study. The purpose of this review article is to describe the normal ultrasonographic appearance of peripheral nerves and to discuss the potential role of this technique to image nerve lesions noninvasively. A series of paradigmatic ultrasound images of diverse pathologic processes involving peripheral nerves is presented. Although the ultrasound study of peripheral nerves remains in its infancy, with further refinement of ultrasound technology and a more precise knowledge of the ultrasound appearance of the extremities we may be optimistic to the future impact of this technique on diagnosis, treatment and prognosis in patients clinically suspected to have a nerve lesion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-178
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Peripheral Nervous System
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Lower and upper limbs
  • Morton's neuroma
  • Peripheral nerves
  • Tumors
  • Ultrasound (US)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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