Ultrahigh Frequency Ultrasound Imaging of the Hand: A New Diagnostic Tool for Hand Surgery

Stephen L., Viviano, Laurel K., Chandler, Jonathan D., Keith


Background: Ultrasonography is a cost-effective, noninvasive, and expedient imaging modality with numerous clinical applications. Conventional ultrasound uses transducers with frequencies that range from 5 to 12 MHz. However, ultrahigh frequency ultrasound (UHFUS) is capable of producing frequencies up to 70 MHz, which can achieve tissue resolution up to 30 μm. The purpose of our study is to present the capabilities of a novel technology and to describe its possible clinical applications for hand surgery. Methods: The Vevo 2100 (VisualSonics, Toronto, Canada) system was used to perform all ultrasound exams. Four unique linear array transducers were employed. All studies were performed by the authors, who have no formal training in ultrasound techniques, on 5 healthy resident volunteers and 1 clinical patient under institutional review board approval. Results: A series of 10 static images per participant and dynamic, real-time videos were obtained at various locations within the hand and wrist. UHFUS is capable of quickly and reliably imaging larger structures such as foreign bodies, soft tissue masses, and the flexor tendons, and diagnosing an array of pathologies within these structures. In addition, UHFUS can identify much finer structures such as the intimal layer of the arteries in the hand and individual fascicles within the digital nerves to provide data about vessel quality and vascular and neural pathologies. Conclusions: UHFUS is a novel technology that shows multiple advantages over conventional ultrasound for imaging the fine superficial structures of the hand and wrist, and can be deployed by the surgeon at the point of care.