Assessment of median nerve with MR neurography by using diffusion-tensor imaging: Normative and pathologic diffusion values

Roman Guggenberger, Daniel Markovic, Patrick Eppenberger, Avneesh Chhabra, Andreas Schiller, Daniel Nanz, Klaas Prüssmann, Gustav Andreisek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine normative diffusion values of the median nerve at several anatomic locations in healthy men and women of variable age and to compare these normative values with those in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Materials and Methods: After ethics board approval and written informed consent were obtained, 45 healthy volunteers (30 women, 15 men) and 15 patients (10 women, five men) were studied. Volunteers were divided into three age groups. Magnetic resonance (MR) neurography with diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) was performed in all study participants at 3.0 T by using a single-shot echo-planar imaging sequence (repetition time msec/echo time msec, 10 123/40; b = 1200 sec/mm2). Fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) of the median nerve were determined by two readers at three locations: the levels of the distal radioulnar joint, pisiform bone, and hamate bone. Results: Normative FA and ADC values were calculated for men and women, different age groups, and different anatomic locations. FA and ADC did not differ between men and women (P = .28 and P = .38, respectively). FA decreased and ADC increased when moving from proximal to distal locations (P < .001). FA decreased and ADC increased significantly with age (P < .001). There was a significant difference between healthy volunteers and patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (P < .001 for both FA and ADC). An FA threshold of 0.47 and an ADC threshold of 1.054 × 10-3 mm2/sec might be used in the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Conclusion: Normative diffusion values for MR neurography of the median nerve with DTI depend on the anatomic location and age but not on sex. Age-specific FA and ADC threshold values might be used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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