Neurology

Nerve ultrasound improves detection of treatment-responsive chronic inflammatory neuropathies



Objective

To examine the diagnostic accuracy of nerve ultrasound in a prospective cohort of consecutive patients with a clinical suspicion of chronic inflammatory neuropathies, including chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Lewis-Sumner syndrome, and multifocal motor neuropathy, and to determine the added value in the detection of treatment-responsive patients.

Methods

Between February 2015 and July 2018, we included 100 consecutive incident patients with a clinical suspicion of chronic inflammatory neuropathy. All patients underwent nerve ultrasound, extensive standardized nerve conduction studies (NCS), and other relevant diagnostic investigations. We evaluated treatment response using predefined criteria. A diagnosis of chronic inflammatory neuropathy was established when NCS were abnormal (fulfilling criteria of demyelination of the European Federation of Neurological Societies/Peripheral Nerve Society) or when the degree of nerve enlargement detected by sonography was compatible with chronic inflammatory neuropathy and there was response to treatment.

Results

A diagnosis of chronic inflammatory neuropathy was established in 38 patients. Sensitivity and specificity of nerve ultrasound and NCS were 97.4% and 69.4% and 78.9% and 93.5%, respectively. The added value of nerve ultrasound in detection of treatment-responsive chronic inflammatory neuropathy was 21.1% compared to NCS alone.

Conclusions

Nerve ultrasound and NCS are complementary techniques with superior sensitivity in the former and specificity in the latter. Addition of nerve ultrasound significantly improves the detection of chronic inflammatory neuropathies. Therefore, it deserves a prominent place in the diagnostic workup of chronic inflammatory neuropathies.

Classification of evidence

This study provides Class IV evidence that nerve ultrasound is an accurate diagnostic tool to detect chronic inflammatory neuropathies.

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