Practical ultrasonographic technique to precisely identify and differentiate tendons and ligaments of the elbow at the level of the humeral epicondyles: anatomical study

Omoumi P, Gondim Teixeira PA, Ward SR, Trudell D, Resnick D.
Skeletal Radiol, 2021 50(7):1369-1377.


OBJECTIVES: To develop a practical step-by-step technique to precisely identify and differentiate tendons and ligaments attaching to the humeral epicondyles, to confirm through gross anatomical study the accurate structure identification provided by this technique and to determine the frequency at which each structure can be identified in healthy volunteers.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: First, ten fresh frozen cadavers (6 men, age at death = 58-92 years) were examined by two musculoskeletal radiologists and a step-by-step technique for the identification of tendons and ligaments at the level of humeral epicondyles was developed. Second, the accurate identification of structures was confirmed through gross anatomical study including anatomical sections on five specimens and layer-by-layer dissection technique on five others. Finally, 12 healthy volunteers (6 men, average age = 36, range = 28-52) were scanned by two radiologists following the same technique.

RESULTS: An ultrasonographic technique based on the recognition of bony landmarks and the use of ultrasonographic signs to differentiate overlapping structures was developed and validated through gross anatomical study. In healthy volunteers, most tendons and ligaments were identified and well-defined in >e; 80% of cases, except for the extensor carpi radialis brevis and extensor digiti minimi tendons on the lateral epicondyle (having common attachments with the extensor digitorum communis) and the palmaris longus tendon on the medial epicondyle (absent, or common attachment with the flexor carpi radialis).

CONCLUSION: A step-by-step approach to the ultrasonographic assessment of tendons and ligaments at the humeral epicondyles allowed accurate identification of and differentiation among these structures, in particular those relevant to pathological conditions.

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