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MRI findings in thoracic outlet syndrome

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We discuss MRI findings in patients with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). A total of 100 neurovascular bundles were evaluated in the interscalene triangle (IS), costoclavicular (CC), and retropectoralis minor (RPM) spaces. To exclude neurogenic abnormality, MRIs of the cervical spine and brachial plexus (BPL) were obtained in neutral. To exclude compression on neurovascular bundles, sagittal T1W images were obtained vertical to the longitudinal axis of BPL from spinal cord to the medial part of the humerus, in abduction and neutral. To exclude vascular TOS, MR angiography (MRA) and venography (MRV) of the subclavian artery (SA) and vein (SV) in abduction were obtained. If there is compression on the vessels, MRA and MRV of the subclavian vessels were repeated in neutral. Seventy-one neurovascular bundles were found to be abnormal: 16 arterial–venous–neurogenic, 20 neurogenic, 1 arterial, 15 venous, 8 arterial–venous, 3 arterial–neurogenic, and 8 venous–neurogenic TOS. Overall, neurogenic TOS was noted in 69%, venous TOS in 66%, and arterial TOS in 39%. The neurovascular bundle was most commonly compressed in the CC, mostly secondary to position, and very rarely compressed in the RPM. The cause of TOS was congenital bone variations in 36%, congenital fibromuscular anomalies in 11%, and position in 53%. In 5%, there was unilateral brachial plexitis in addition to compression of the neurovascular bundle. Severe cervical spondylosis was noted in 14%, contributing to TOS symptoms. For evaluation of patients with TOS, visualization of the brachial plexus and cervical spine and dynamic evaluation of neurovascular bundles in the cervicothoracobrachial region are mandatory.

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This study was presented at ASNR 48th Annual Meeting & NER Foundation Symposium 2010, Boston, MA, USA, as a scientific exhibit.

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Correspondence to Ayse Aralasmak.

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Aralasmak, A., Cevikol, C., Karaali, K. et al. MRI findings in thoracic outlet syndrome. Skeletal Radiol 41, 1365–1374 (2012).

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