Optimal Choice of Ultrasound-Based Measurements for the Diagnosis of Ulnar Neuropathy at the Elbow: A Meta-Analysis of 1961 Examinations

Arya Haj-Mirzaian, Nima Hafezi-Nejad, Filippo Del Grande, Yoshimi Endo, O. Kenechi Nwawka, Theodore T. Miller, John A. Carrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to determine the optimal ultrasound (US) measurement technique and cutoff value for the diagnosis of ulnar neuropathy at the elbow. MATERIALS AND METHODS. A systematic literature search was conducted of the PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science databases for studies evaluating the diagnostic accuracy of US of patients with ulnar neuropathy at the elbow before April 2019. Random-effects modeling was performed to compare the sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) of different US measurements, including diameter and cross-sectional area (CSA) of the nerve at the medial epicondyle or proximal and distal levels, maximal diameter, maximal CSA, and nerve ratios. Sensitivity and metaregression analyses were performed to assess the impact of clinical and imaging-based variables on the DOR of US. RESULTS. Among 820 retrieved studies, 19 studies (1961 examinations) were included. Measuring the CSA of the ulnar nerve at the medial epicondyle with a cutoff value greater than 10–10.5 mm2 had higher sensitivity (80.4%, 95% CI, 75.4–84.7%) than other techniques. Nerve ratios had higher specificity (89.1%, 95% CI, 85.8–91.8%) than other measurements; however, the definition of ratios and cutoff values varied across studies. ROC analysis showed higher diagnostic performance for measuring CSA at the medial epicondyle (AUC, 0.931). The mean CSA value was a significant predictor of the DOR of US (β coefficient, 0.307 ± 0.074; p < 0.001). Every 1-mm2 larger CSA was associated with a 36% increase in DOR. The diagnostic performance of US was the same in any degree of elbow flexion. CONCLUSION. Measuring CSA of the ulnar nerve at the medial epicondyle has sensitivity and diagnostic performance superior to those of other techniques for the diagnosis of ulnar neuropathy at the elbow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1171-1183
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Volume215
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Diagnostic accuracy
  • Elbow
  • Meta-analysis
  • Ulnar neuropathy
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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