High-resolution ultrasound analysis of subsynovial connective tissue in human cadaver carpal tunnel

Anke M. Ettema, Marek Belohlavek, Chunfeng Zhao, Sang Ho Oh, Peter C. Amadio, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The carpal tunnel contains the median nerve, nine flexor tendons, two synovial bursae, and peritendinous subsynovial connective tissue (SSCT). Fibrosis of the SSCT is the most consistent pathological finding in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. We investigated the anatomy and gliding characteristics of the flexor digitorum superficialis tendon and its adjacent SSCT with high-resolution ultrasound (15 MHz). Our hypotheses were that tendon and SSCT are distinguishable by ultrasound and that their velocities during tendon excursion are different. Qualitative ultrasound analysis of a flexor tendon and its SSCT was performed on five cadaver wrists and correlated to respective findings after anatomical study of the same cadavers. Quantitative Doppler velocity analysis of eight cadaver wrists was done to assess the sliding movement of the tendon and its SSCT within the carpal tunnel. No significant difference was found between the thickness of SSCT measured by ultrasound and that measured directly after dissection. The SSCT moved slower than its flexor tendon. The SSCT velocities were statistically different from the tendon velocities (t-test, p > 0.001). High-resolution ultrasound is a very precise method to display the anatomy of the tendon and SSCT within the carpal tunnel, and their different velocities can be detected with Doppler. Noninvasive assessment of the thickness and velocity of the tenosynovium in carpal tunnel syndrome by high-resolution sonography might be a new diagnostic tool for disorders affecting the SSCT, especially carpal tunnel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2020
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Carpal tunnel
  • Human
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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