Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome: Current diagnostic criteria and advances in MRI diagnostics

Stephen T. Magill, Marcel Brus-Ramer, Philip R. Weinstein, Cynthia T. Chin, Line Jacques*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS) is caused by compression of the brachial plexus as it traverses from the thoracic outlet to the axilla. Diagnosing nTOS can be difficult because of overlap with other complex pain and entrapment syndromes. An nTOS diagnosis is made based on patient history, physical exam, electrodiagnostic studies, and, more recently, interpretation of MR neurograms with tractography. Advances in high-resolution MRI and tractography can confirm an nTOS diagnosis and identify the location of nerve compression, allowing tailored surgical decompression. In this report, the authors review the current diagnostic criteria, present an update on advances in MRI, and provide case examples demonstrating how MR neurography (MRN) can aid in diagnosing nTOS. The authors conclude that improved high-resolution MRN and tractography are valuable tools for identifying the source of nerve compression in patients with nTOS and can augment current diagnostic modalities for this syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE7
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • DTI
  • MR neurogram
  • MR tractography
  • MRI
  • Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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