Sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic ultrasound in the diagnosis of phrenic neuropathy

Andrea J. Boon, Hiroshi Sekiguchi, Caitlin J. Harper, Jeffrey A. Strommen, Leili S. Ghahfarokhi, James C. Watson, Eric J. Sorenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the sensitivity and specificity of B-mode ultrasound in the diagnosis of neuromuscular diaphragmatic dysfunction, including phrenic neuropathy. Methods: A prospective study of patients with dyspnea referred to theEMG laboratory over a 2-year time frame for evaluation of neuromuscular respiratory failure who were recruited consecutively and examined with ultrasound for possible diaphragmdysfunction. Sonographic outcomemeasures were absolute thickness of the diaphragmand degree of increased thickness withmaximal inspiration. The comparison standard for diagnosis of diaphragm dysfunction was the final clinical diagnosis of clinicians blinded to the diaphragm ultrasound results, but taking into account other diagnostic workup, including chest radiographs, fluoroscopy, phrenic nerve conduction studies, diaphragm EMG, and/or pulmonary function tests. Results: Of 82 patients recruited over a 2-year period, 66 were enrolled in the study. Sixteen patients were excluded because of inconclusive or insufficient reference testing. One hemidiaphragm could not be adequately visualized; therefore, hemidiaphragm assessment was conducted in a total of 131 hemidiaphragms in 66 patients. Of the 82 abnormal hemidiaphragms, 76 had abnormal sonographic findings (atrophy or decreased contractility). Of the 49 normal hemidiaphragms, none had a false-positive ultrasound. Diaphragmatic ultrasound was 93% sensitive and 100% specific for the diagnosis of neuromuscular diaphragmatic dysfunction. Conclusion: B-mode ultrasound imaging of the diaphragm is a highly sensitive and specific tool for diagnosis of neuromuscular diaphragm dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1264-1270
Number of pages7
Issue number14
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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