Normal and sonographic anatomy of selected peripheral nerves. Part II: Peripheral nerves of the upper limb

Berta Kowalska1, Iwona Sudoł-Szopińska2

Affiliation and address for correspondence
J Ultrason 2012; 12 (49): 131–147

The ultrasonographic examination is frequently used for imaging peripheral nerves. It serves to supplement the physical examination, electromyography, and magnetic resonance imaging. As in the case of other USG imaging studies, the examination of peripheral nerves is non-invasive, well-tolerated by patients, and relatively inexpensive. Part I of this article series described in detail the characteristic USG picture of peripheral nerves and the proper examination technique, following the example of the median nerve. This nerve is among the most often examined peripheral nerves of the upper limb. This part presents describes the normal anatomy and ultrasound picture of the remaining large nerve branches in the upper extremity and neck – the spinal accessory nerve, the brachial plexus, the suprascapular, axillary, musculocutaneous, radial and ulnar nerves. Their normal anatomy and ultrasonographic appearance have been described, including the division into individual branches. For each of them, specific reference points have been presented, to facilitate the location of the set trunk and its further monitoring. Sites for the application of the ultrasonographic probe at each reference point have been indicated. In the case of the ulnar nerve, the dynamic component of the examination was emphasized. The text is illustrated with images of probe positioning, diagrams of the normal course of the nerves as well as a series of ultrasonographic pictures of normal nerves of the upper limb. This article aims to serve as a guide in the ultrasound examination of the peripheral nerves of the upper extremity. It should be remembered that a thorough knowledge of the area’s topographic anatomy is required for this type of examination.

peripheral nerves of the upper extremity, ultrasonography, proper anatomy, ultrasonographic anatomy, examination technique