Quantification of synovitis in the cranio-cervical region: Dynamic contrast enhanced and diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging in early rheumatoid arthritis—A feasibility follow up study

Institute of Radiology, Department for Neuroradiology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Zaloska cesta 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. Electronic address: .
European journal of radiology (Impact Factor: 2.37). 05/2012; 81(11):3412-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2012.04.006
Source: PubMed


To test the feasibility of dynamic contrast enhanced (DCEI) and diffusion weighted (DWI) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for quantifying synovitis of the cranio-cervical (C-C) region in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and neck pain at the beginning and at a six month follow up.
27 patients with duration of RA of less than 24 months and neck pain were studied with standard qualitative MRI evaluation and two quantitative MRI methods (DCEI and DWI) at the level of atlantoaxial joints. Rate of early enhancement (REE), enhancement gradient (Genh) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) were extracted from DCEI and DWI data. MRI was coupled with clinical assessment and radiographic imaging.
Using standard qualitative MRI evaluation, unequivocal active synovitis (grade 2 or 3 contrast enhancement) was proved in 16 (59%) patients at baseline and 14 (54%) at follow up. DCEI and DWI measurements confirmed active synovitis in 25 (93%) patients at baseline and 24 (92%) at follow up. Average REE, Genh and ADC values decreased during follow up, however the difference was not statistically significant (p>0.05). Both qualitative and quantitative MRI methods confirmed active inflammatory disease in the C-C region following therapy although all clinical criteria showed signs of improvement of the peripheral disease.
The study proved the feasibility of DCEI and DWI MRI for quantifying synovitis of the C-C region in patients with early RA and neck pain. Both techniques can be used as additional method for evaluation of synovitis of the C-C region in RA.

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