Our objective in this study was to compare the sensitivity and specificity of the median sensory nerve conduction velocity (SNCV) from digits to wrist with those of the distoproximal (D/P) ratio of the median SNCV from palm to digit 3/palm to wrist in the diagnosis of mild carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS by using a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. To achieve this objective, we studied prospectively (January 1997-October 1998) 370 patients referred for CTS. One hundred forty-two patients (38.4%) with moderate to severe CTS and 15 patients (4.1%) with multiple (≥3) compressive neuropathies in upper limbs with subclinical peripheral neuropathy were excluded. The remaining 213 patients (302 hands with mild CTS; 167 women; mean age, 50 y ± 12 y) and 38 controls (71 hands; 25 women; mean age, 47 y ± 13 y) had median and ulnar nerve conduction studies. ROC curves were constructed for median SNCV digit 1 to wrist and median SNCV D/P ratio from the patients' and controls' data. The median SNCV at ≤45.9 m/s, corresponding to an optimal cutoff point on ROC curve, discriminated 89.5% of mild CTS from controls with specificity of 98.6%. The median D/P ratio at ≥1.12, corresponding to an optimal cutoff point on ROC curve, discriminated 67.2% of mild CTS from controls with specificity of 97.2%. Of the 10.3% (31/302) of hands in which digit 1 to wrist was within normal limits at the selected optimal cutoff value (≤45.9 ms), 7% (21/302) had an abnormal D/P ratio (≥1.12), and 3.3% (101/302) had a normal electrophysiologic examination. The likelihood ratio (true-positive ratio to false-positive ratio, assessing the discriminative power of a test) of the median SNCV digit 1 to wrist, at an optimal point on ROC curve (63.9), was higher than that of the median SNCV D/P ratio (23.9, χ2 = 36.9, P < .001). These findings suggest that the median SNCV digit 1 to wrist is more sensitive than the median SNCV D/P ratio in the diagnosis of mild CTS.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Digit one
- Distoproximal ratio
- Early diagnosis
- Median sensory nerve conduction velocity
- Receiver operating characteristic curve
ASJC Scopus subject areas