Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Digital Nerves of the Hand: Anatomy and Spectrum of Pathology

Authors: Charles H. Mitchell, MD1, Laura M. Fayad, MD, Shivani Ahlawat, MD

Digital nerves are intrinsic to the sensory and motor function of the hand. These nerves represent the terminal ramifications of the ulnar, median, and radial nerves and are located distal to the carpal tunnel and Guyon canal. With magnetic resonance imaging, traumatic and nontraumatic abnormalities of the digital nerves can be shown with high contrast as well as high spatial resolution. Digital nerve abnormalities are most commonly posttraumatic in nature; however, infection, inflammatory, vascular malformations, and neoplasms can rarely occur. Magnetic resonance imaging is playing an increasing role in the assessment of peripheral nerve injury throughout the body, and in the hand, which can accurately identify the extent and character of digital nerve abnormalities before operative intervention.