Wake Forest Baptist Neurologist Hopes to Improve Diagnosis of Focal Nerve Disease

August 10, 2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A neurologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center recently received a $700,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore using neuromuscular ultrasound to diagnose and treat patients with focal neuropathies, including carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy. Wake Forest Baptist is one of a handful of institutions in the country offering the diagnostic service.

Michael Cartwright, M.D., a neurologist at Wake Forest Baptist, hopes to improve the care patients receive when diagnosed with nerve and muscle disease.

 “Using neuromuscular ultrasound to diagnose nerve and muscle disease is offered at only a handful of institutions across the United States,” Cartwright said. “Typically, hospitals use traditional electrodiagnostic studies, like EMG and nerve conduction studies, to evaluate and diagnose these conditions. Our thought is that neuromuscular ultrasound, in addition to the electrodiagnostic studies, will ultimately result in our patients having better functional outcomes compared with those evaluated with traditional electrodiagnostic studies alone.”

 The research project will take place over the next five years and will be divided into two phases. The first phase will demonstrate the validity and reliability of neuromuscular ultrasound. The second phase is a double-masked randomized clinical trial to assess the efficacy of diagnostic ultrasound on the functional outcomes of 150 individuals with focal neuropathies.

“By providing a more accurate and precise diagnosis, physicians can prescribe more appropriate treatments for their patients,” Cartwright said. “In turn, patients will benefit from more focused treatment.”

Cartwright will be working with Francis Walker, M.D., an international expert in neuromuscular ultrasound and a neurologist at Wake Forest Baptist.

Focal neuropathies affect more than 300,000 individuals each year in the United States and medical costs exceed $500 million annually.


Media Relations

Rae Bush: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587

Bonnie Davis: bdavis@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-1597