Skeletal Radiology

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 609–616

US imaging of the musculocutaneous nerve

  • Alberto Stefano Tagliafico
  • Johan Michaud
  • Alessandra Marchetti
  • Isabella Garello
  • Luca Padua
  • Carlo Martinoli
Scientific Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00256-010-1046-6

Cite this article as:
Tagliafico, A.S., Michaud, J., Marchetti, A. et al. Skeletal Radiol (2011) 40: 609. doi:10.1007/s00256-010-1046-6



To describe the potential value of high-resolution sonography for evaluation of the musculocutaneous nerve (MCN).

Materials and methods

The normal anatomy of the MCN was evaluated on three cadaveric limbs and correlated with the US images obtained in 15 healthy subjects. Seven consecutive patients with MCN neuropathy were then evaluated with sonography using 17.5 and 12.5-MHz broadband linear array transducers. All patients had abnormal nerve conduction studies and underwent correlative MR imaging on a 1.5-T system.


One-to-one comparison between cadaveric specimens and sonographic images showed that the MCN can be reliably identified from the axilla through the elbow, including the lateral antebrachial cutaneous (LAbC) nerve. In the patients group with MCN neuropathy, sonography allowed detection of a wide spectrum of abnormalities. In 5/7 cases, a spindle neuroma was depicted in continuity with the nerve. In one case, US identified focal swelling of the nerve and in another case US was negative. The neuroma was hyperintense on T2-weighted sequences in 75% of cases. In one patient, the nerve showed Gd-enhancement on fat-suppressed T1-weighted sequences. The nerve was never detected on unenhanced T1-scans. Owing to its small-size and out-of-plane course, the MCN may be more reliably depicted with sonography rather than with MR imaging.


US is promising for evaluating traumatic injuries of the MCN. By providing unique information on the entire course of the nerve, US can be used as a valuable complement of clinical and electrophysiologic findings.


Nerve Musculocutaneous US MR Imaging Pathology Injuries 



Musculocutaneous nerve


Lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve


Coracobrachialis muscle


Biceps brachii muscle


Brachialis muscle

Copyright information

© ISS 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberto Stefano Tagliafico
    • 1
  • Johan Michaud
    • 2
  • Alessandra Marchetti
    • 3
  • Isabella Garello
    • 3
  • Luca Padua
    • 4
    • 5
  • Carlo Martinoli
    • 3
  1. 1.National Institute for Cancer Research, Department of RadiologyGenoaItaly
  2. 2.Department of PhysiatryUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Radiology DepartmentUniversità di GenovaGenoaItaly
  4. 4.Institute of NeurologyUniversità Cattolica del Sacro Cuore-RomeRomeItaly
  5. 5.Fondazione Don Carlo GnocchiRomeItaly

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