Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2017 June; 72(6): 358-362.

Copyright © 2017 CLINICS

Sonographic Findings of the Bifid Median Nerve and Persistent Median Artery in Carpal Tunnel: A Preliminary Study in Chinese Individuals

Li Chen # , Jie Chen # , Bing Hu * , Li-Xin Jiang *

Department of Ultrasound in Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University Affiliated Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, Shanghai, China

*Corresponding author. E-mail:

# These authors contributed equally to this work.

received November 13, 2016; revised March 9, 2017; accepted March 17, 2017.



The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of anatomic variations of the bifid median nerve, persistent median artery and persistent median vein in Chinese individuals and their relationship with carpal tunnel syndrome.


One hundred and sixty median nerves were examined using ultrasonography and colour Doppler ultrasonography. The location, shape, and size of the bifid median nerve, persistent median artery and persistent median vein were recorded. The cross-sectional area of the bifid median nerve (two trunks) was measured at the level of the pisiform.


Among the 160 wrists examined, a bifid median nerve was observed in 15 (9.4%) wrists, and a persistent median artery was observed in 12 (7.5%) wrists. These two variations either coexisted or were observed independently, and the probability of coexistence (6.3%) was higher than the probability of existing independently (bifid median nerve only 3.1%, persistent median artery only 1.3%). The cross-sectional area of the radial trunk was greater than (13 in 15, 86.7%) the cross-sectional area of the ulnaris trunk. Persistent median vein was observed in 9 wrists (5.6%).


The persistent median artery and bifid median nerve tend to coexist, and the persistent median vein sometimes runs parallel to the persistent median artery. Their positional relationship in carpal tunnel is uncertain, and thus, preoperative ultrasound is necessary. These three variations do not present any additional risk for the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Keywords: Sonography, Bifid Median Nerve, Persistent Median Artery, Anatomic Variation, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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