The Carpal Tunnel Ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic exam that captures images of the tendons, ligaments, median nerve and bones within the carpal tunnel. Since the carpal tunnel is a small passageway; when any structure becomes enlarged it can cause the median nerve to become compressed and cause a change in sensation and strength in the hand. Ultrasound is a very safe and reliable diagnostic imaging resource that assesses pathology and guides physicians towards your individualized treatment plan.
Your doctor may recommend a carpal tunnel ultrasound if you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Frequent tingling, numbness, and weakness in the thumb, index, middle and ring finger.
- Weak grip strength
- The need to “shake out” your hand and wrist, especially after sleeping
- Difficulty making a fist
- Difficulty with fine motor tasks such as writing with a pen
Common risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Women are up to five times more likely to experience carpal tunnel syndrome
- Having pre-existing nerve damaging condition such as diabetes
- Previous wrist fracture or dislocation
- Diagnosed with an inflammatory condition
- Changes in the balance of bodily fluids which is common during pregnancy and menopause
- Occupation, depending on the type of activities performed every day with your job
Should you have any concern of carpal tunnel signs or symptoms, such as discomfort, pain, swelling, numbness, tingling or burning sensations, a referral from a general practitioner or family doctor is required for a diagnostic carpal tunnel ultrasound.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR MY CARPAL TUNNEL ULTRASOUND
There are no specific preparations necessary for the carpal tunnel ultrasound. Dress in clothes that allow for easy access to examine the wrist and hand, otherwise, a medical gown will be provided.
A water-based gel is used to improve the transmission of the ultrasound waves; however, should you have any allergies to gel it is important to let the ultrasound technician know. In addition, please let the ultrasound technician know if you have had any previous surgery around the imaged area.
If you are pregnant, or suspect that you may be pregnant, please notify your doctor. If you have any queries or concerns with preparing for your ultrasound, please discuss these with your physician before your appointment.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING MY CARPAL TUNNEL ULTRASOUND APPOINTMENT
Upon arrival, you will be shown to a private room where the ultrasound technician will offer you a medical gown to change into if needed. You will be asked to remove any jewelry that may interfere with the ultrasound procedure. When ready, the ultrasound technician will apply a small amount of a water-based gel to the transducer head, and gently move it along your wrist and hand with mild to moderate pressure to capture clear images. The technician may ask you to move your hand into specific positions in order to capture all necessary images. Once finished, you will be able to wipe off the gel and get dressed.
The assessment will be approximately 15 minutes long for one hand and 30 minutes for both.
Soon after your appointment, a radiologist will review your images and send a report of your diagnosis to your general practitioner or family physician. Once the report is reviewed, your doctor will contact you with the results.