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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The usefulness of magnetic resonance imaging of the hand and wrist in very early rheumatoid arthritis

Paraskevi E Kosta1, Paraskevi V Voulgari2, Anastasia K Zikou1, Alexandros A Drosos2* and Maria I Argyropoulou1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Imaging and Radiology Medical School, University of Ioannina, 45110, Ioannina, Greece

2 Rheumatology Clinic, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Ioannina, 45110, Ioannina, Greece

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2011, 13:R84  doi:10.1186/ar3355

Published: 9 June 2011

Abstract

Introduction

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to study the hand and wrist in very early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and the results were compared with early and established disease.

Methods

Fifty-seven patients fulfilling the new American College of Rheumatology criteria for RA, 26 with very early RA (VERA), 18 with early RA (ERA), and 13 with established RA (ESTRA), (disease duration < 3 months, < 12 months, and > 12 months, respectively) were enrolled in the study. MRI of the dominant hand and wrist was performed by using fat-suppressed T2-weighted and plain and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted sequences. Evaluation of bone marrow edema, synovitis, and bone erosions was performed with the OMERACT RA MRI scoring system.

Results

Edema, erosions, and synovitis were present in VERA, and the prevalence was 100%, 96.15%, and 92.3%, respectively. Significant differences in edema and erosions were found between VERA and ESTRA (P < 0.05). No significant difference was found in synovitis.

Conclusions

Edema, erosions, and synovitis are findings of very early RA. MRI, by detecting these lesions, may play an important role in the management of these patients.