MR Neurography / MR Imaging of Peripheral Nerves (PNI)

MR neurography, or magnetic resonance neurography (MRN), also known as MR Imaging of Peripheral Nerves (PNI), is an advanced technique that is useful for diagnosing disorders of the peripheral nerves beyond the spinal canal.

The UCSF Precision Spine and Peripheral Nerve Center is one of the few sites in Northern California that offers MR neurography.

Using state-of-the-art 1.5T and 3.0T MRI scanners, we provide diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging of the spine, brain, pelvis and extremities. It is especially beneficial for patients with:

  • Persistent nerve-related symptoms despite normal or equivocal routine spine imaging, and
  • Specific nerve abnormalities on electromyelography.

MR neurography can image nerves anywhere in the body, although it is most commonly used in the diagnosis of abnormalities of the brachial plexus, lumbosacral plexus, thoracic outlet, and sciatic nerves. MRN can be performed at any time after nerve injury, as opposed to electrodiagnostic studies, which usually require a two- to three-week waiting period after abnormalities can be detected. Nerve trauma, tumor, inflammation, radiation damage, compression related to disc disease or entrapment (i.e. thoracic outlet, “piriformis”/extraspinal sciatica) are some of the more common nerve diseases that are evaluated with MRN.

MR neurography is very similar to a traditional MRI. Thin section, high-resolution sequences are performed that are dedicated to optimally increase the conspicuity of nerve tissue signal. Being able to view the nerves helps physicians to localize the site of nerve injury and diagnose the underlying etiology.