Ulrich Weber

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Publications (34)116.47 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: To determine candidate lesion-based criteria for a positive sacroiliac joint (SIJ) MRI based on bone marrow oedema (BMO) and/or erosion in non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA); to compare the performance of lesion-based criteria with global evaluation by expert readers.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the incremental diagnostic value of spine MRI evaluated separately from and combined with sacroiliac joint (SIJ) MRI in non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) compared with SIJ MRI alone. The study sample comprised two independent cohorts A/B of 130 consecutive patients aged ≤50 years with back pain, newly referred to two university clinics, and 20 healthy controls. Patients were classified according to clinical examination and pelvic radiographs as having nr-axSpA (n=50), ankylosing spondylitis (n=33), or non-specific back pain (n=47). Four readers assessed SIJ and spine MRI separately 6 months apart, and 1-12 months later both scans simultaneously using standardised modules. Readers recorded presence/absence of SpA and their level of confidence in this conclusion on a 0-10 scale (0=definitely not; 10=definite). We analysed differences between SIJ MRI versus spine MRI alone, and SIJ MRI alone versus combined MRI, descriptively by the number/percentage of subjects according to the mean of four readers. In cohorts A/B, 15.8%/24.2% of patients with nr-axSpA having a negative SIJ MRI were reclassified as being positive for SpA by global evaluation of combined scans. However, 26.8%/11.4% of non-specific back pain controls and 17.5% of healthy volunteers with a negative SIJ MRI were falsely reclassified as having SpA by combined MRI. Low confidence in a diagnosis of SpA by SIJ MRI increased to high confidence by combined MRI in 6.6%/7.3% of patients with nr-axSpA. Combined spine and SIJ MRI added little incremental value compared with SIJ MRI alone for diagnosing patients with nr-axSpA and enhancing confidence in this diagnosis.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 01/2014; · 8.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Studies have shown that fat lesions follow resolution of inflammation in the spine of patients with axial spondyloarthritis (SpA). Fat lesions at vertebral corners have also been shown to predict development of new syndesmophytes. Therefore, scoring of fat lesions in the spine may constitute both an important measure of treatment efficacy as well as a surrogate marker for new bone formation. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a new scoring method for fat lesions in the spine, the Fat SpA Spine Score (FASSS), which in contrast to the existing scoring method addresses the localization and phenotypic diversity of fat lesions in patients with axial SpA. Fat lesions at pre-specified anatomical locations at each vertebral endplate (C2 lower-S1 upper) were assessed dichotomously (present/absent) on spine MRIs. Two readers independently evaluated MRIs obtained at two time points for 58 patients (Exercise 1), followed by optimization of scoring methodology and reader calibration. Thereafter, the same readers read 135 pairs of MRI scans (Exercise 2; including the 58 pairs from exercise 1 randomly mixed with 77 new pairs). In Exercise 2, the mean (SD) baseline FASSS score for the two readers was 22.5(29.6) and 21.1(28.0), respectively, and the FASSS change score was 4.2(10.6) and 6.0(12.2). Inter-reader reliability assessed as intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) for status and change scores were excellent (0.96 (95%CI (0.94 to 0.97)) and very good (0.86 (0.80 to 0.90)), respectively. The smallest detectable change (SDC) was 3.7 for the 135 patients. Good reliability of change scores was also observed for MRI scans conducted one year apart (ICC 0.74 (CI95% 0.44 to 0.89) and SDC 4.5). For the 58 MRI-pairs assessed in both exercises, inter-reader reproducibility for the total FASSS status score improved from very good (ICCs: 0.89 (95%CI: 0.81 to 0.93) in exercise 1 to excellent in exercise 2 (0.96 (0.93 to 0.98)), and improved substantially for the total change score (from 0.67 (0.51 to 0.80) to 0.83 (0.73 to 0.90). FASSS meets essential validation criteria for quantification of a common structural abnormality in clinical trials of axial spondyloarthritis.
    Arthritis research & therapy 12/2013; 15(6):R216. · 4.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To explore whether morphological features of fat infiltration (FI) on sacroiliac joint (SIJ) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contribute to diagnostic utility in 2 inception cohorts of patients with nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA). Four blinded readers assessed SIJ MRI in 2 cohorts (A/B) of 157 consecutive patients with back pain who were ≤ 50 years old, and in 20 healthy controls. Patients were classified according to clinical examination and pelvic radiography as having nr-axSpA (n = 51), ankylosing spondylitis (n = 34), or nonspecific back pain (n = 72). Readers recorded FI, bone marrow edema (BME), and erosion, predefined morphological features of FI (distinct border, homogeneity, subchondral location), and anatomical distribution of SIJ FI. The proportion of SIJ quadrants affected by FI and frequencies of various SIJ FI features were analyzed descriptively. We calculated positive/negative likelihood ratios (LR) to estimate the diagnostic utility of various features of FI, with and without associated BME, and erosion. Of the patients with nr-axSpA in cohorts A/B, 45.0%/48.4% had FI in ≥ 2 SIJ quadrants. Of those, 25.0%/22.6% and 20.0%/25.8% showed FI with distinct border or homogeneous pattern, respectively, and 50% to 100% of those patients displayed concomitant BME or erosion. FI per se in ≥ 2 SIJ quadrants had no diagnostic utility (LR+ 1.62/1.91). FI with distinct border (LR+ 8.29/2.13) or homogeneity (LR+ 6.24/3.78) demonstrated small to moderate diagnostic utility. SIJ FI per se was not of clinical utility in recognition of nr-axSpA. Distinct border or homogeneity of FI on SIJ MRI showed small to moderate diagnostic utility in nr-axSpA, but were strongly associated with concomitant BME or erosion, highlighting the contextual interpretation of SIJ MRI.
    The Journal of Rheumatology 12/2013; · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As a wider variety of therapeutic options for osteoarthritis (OA) becomes available, there is an increasing need to objectively evaluate disease severity on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This is more technically challenging at the hip than at the knee, and as a result, few systematic scoring systems exist. The OMERACT (Outcome Measures in Rheumatology) filter of truth, discrimination, and feasibility can be used to validate image-based scoring systems. Our objective was (1) to review the imaging features relevant to the assessment of severity and progression of hip OA; and (2) to review currently used methods to grade these features in existing hip OA scoring systems. A systematic literature review was conducted. MEDLINE keyword search was performed for features of arthropathy (such as hip + bone marrow edema or lesion, synovitis, cyst, effusion, cartilage, etc.) and scoring system (hip + OA + MRI + score or grade), with a secondary manual search for additional references in the retrieved publications. Findings relevant to the severity of hip OA include imaging markers associated with inflammation (bone marrow lesion, synovitis, effusion), structural damage (cartilage loss, osteophytes, subchondral cysts, labral tears), and predisposing geometric factors (hip dysplasia, femoral-acetabular impingement). Two approaches to the semiquantitative assessment of hip OA are represented by Hip OA MRI Scoring System (HOAMS), a comprehensive whole organ assessment of nearly all findings, and the Hip Inflammation MRI Scoring System (HIMRISS), which selectively scores only active lesions (bone marrow lesion, synovitis/effusion). Validation is presently confined to limited assessment of reliability. Two methods for semiquantitative assessment of hip OA on MRI have been described and validation according to the OMERACT Filter is limited to evaluation of reliability.
    The Journal of Rheumatology 11/2013; · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Development of a validated magnetic resonance image (MRI) scoring system is essential in hip OA because radiographs are insensitive to change. We assessed the feasibility and reliability of 2 previously developed scoring methods: (1) the Hip Inflammation MRI Scoring System (HIMRISS) and (2) the Hip Osteoarthritis MRI Scoring System (HOAMS). Six readers (3 radiologists, 3 rheumatologists) participated in 2 reading exercises. In Reading Exercise 1, MRI of the hip of 20 subjects were read at a single time point followed by further standardization of methodology. In Reading Exercise 2, MRI of the hip of 18 subjects from a randomized controlled trial, assessed at 2 timepoints, and 27 subjects from a cross-sectional study were read for HIMRISS and HOAMS bone marrow lesions (BML) and synovitis. Reliability was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and kappa statistics. Both methods were considered feasible. For Reading 1, HIMRISS ICC were 0.52, 0.61, 0.70, and 0.58 for femoral BML, acetabular BML, effusion, and total scores, respectively; and for HOAMS, summed BML and synovitis ICC were 0.52 and 0.46, respectively. For Reading 2, HIMRISS and HOAMS ICC for BML and synovitis-effusion improved substantially. Interobserver reliability for change scores was 0.81 and 0.71 for HIMRISS femoral and HOAMS summed BML, respectively. Responsiveness and discrimination was moderate to high for synovitis-effusion. Significant associations were noted between BML or synovitis scores and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain scores for baseline values (p ≤ 0.001). The BML and synovitis-effusion components of both HIMRISS and HOAMS scoring systems are feasible and reliable, and should be validated further.
    The Journal of Rheumatology 11/2013; · 3.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective. To evaluate baseline characteristics of patients with radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (rad-axSpA), also called ankylosing spondylitis, and non-radiographic (nr)-axSpA, to investigate determinants of anti-tumor necrosis factor (aTNF) agent prescription on the background of a non-restrictive reimbursement policy and to assess response to TNF-inhibition. Methods. We compared rad- and nr-axSpA characteristics in 1070 patients fulfilling the ASAS classification criteria for axSpA in the Swiss Clinical Quality Management (SCQM) cohort. Taking advantage of the situation that patients eligible for aTNF treatment are preferentially enrolled in SCQM-axSpA, we explored parameters leading to the initiation of aTNF treatment in uni- and multiple regression models and assessed treatment responses. Results. We confirm a similar burden of disease (self-reported activity, impaired function and quality of life) in nr-axSpA (n=232) compared to rad-axSpA patients (n=838). The latter had higher median acute phase reactants and higher AS disease activity scores (ASDAS 3.2 versus 3.0). aTNF treatment was initiated in 363 rad-axSpA patients and 102 nr-axSpA patients, preferentially in patients with sacroiliitis on MRI, peripheral arthritis, higher CRP, ASDAS and BASDAI levels. ASAS40 responses at 1 year were higher in rad-axSpA compared to nr-axSpA (48.1% vs. 29.6%, OR=2.2 [95%CI 1.12;4.46], p=0.02). The difference was smaller in the subgroups of patients with elevated baseline CRP levels (51.6% vs. 38.5%, OR=0.59 [95% CI 0.22;1.48], p=0.29). Conclusion. Comparable treatment indications for aTNF agents were observed in rad-axSpA and nr-axSpA. With the exception of patients with elevated CRP levels at baseline, higher TNF inhibition response rates were achieved in rad-axSpA vs. nr-axSpA. © 2013 American College of Rheumatology.
    Arthritis & Rheumatology 08/2013; · 7.48 Impact Factor
  • Ulrich Weber, Walter P Maksymowych
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years there has been an increased focus on use of imaging for diagnosis and assessment of spondyloarthritis (SpA). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has attracted particular interest for its potential to improve diagnostic certainty for early, non-radiographic disease and to assist clinical decision-making. This report summarizes recent developments toward definition of positive sacroiliac joint and spine MRIs for SpA, with erosion as the major determinant for disease classification. The report also highlights recent SpA imaging work relevant to daily practice, focusing on limitations and challenges of SpA imaging and, in particular, on unsolved practical difficulties of using MRI in SpA. Recent data suggest that SpA imaging in daily practice may not be confined to identification and assessment of disease; it may also become essential for monitoring, clinical decision making, and selecting the most appropriate treatment for patients with SpA. Improved use of imaging may have much potential to enable better management of SpA.
    Current Rheumatology Reports 08/2013; 15(8):345.
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To validate a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reference criterion for a positive sacroiliac (SI) joint MRI finding based on the level of confidence in the classification of spondyloarthritis (SpA) by expert MRI readers. Methods Four readers assessed SI joint MRIs in 2 inception cohorts (cohorts A and B) of 157 consecutive patients with back pain ages ≤50 years and 20 age-matched healthy controls. Patients were classified according to clinical examination and pelvic radiography as having nonradiographic axial SpA (n = 51), ankylosing spondylitis (n = 34), or nonspecific back pain (n = 72). Readers indicated their level of confidence in their classification of SpA on a 0–10 scale, where 0 = definitely not SpA and 10 = definite SpA. The MRI reference criterion was prespecified by consensus as the majority of readers indicating a confidence score of 8–10; the absence of SpA required all readers to indicate non-SpA (a confidence score of 0–4). We calculated interreader reliability and agreement between MRI-based and clinical classification using kappa statistics. We estimated cutoff values for MRI lesions attaining a specificity of ≥0.90 for SpA. ResultsIn cohorts A and B, 76.4% and 71.6% of subjects met the MRI criterion, respectively. The kappa values for interreader agreement were 0.76 for cohort A and 0.80 for cohort B and between MRI-based and clinical assessment were 0.93 for cohort A and 0.57 for cohort B. Using this MRI reference criterion, the cutoff for the number of affected SI joint quadrants needed to reach a predefined specificity of ≥0.90 was ≥2 for bone marrow edema (BME) in both cohorts and ≥1 for erosion in both cohorts, and the BME and/or erosion lesions increased sensitivity without reducing specificity. Conclusion This data-driven study using 2 inception cohorts and comparing clinical and MRI-based classification supports the case for including both erosion and BME to define a positive SI joint MRI finding for the classification of axial SpA.
    Arthritis Care & Research. 06/2013; 65(6).
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    ABSTRACT: AIM: To analyse the imaging findings at the sterno-costo-clavicular (SCC) joint region using whole-body (WB) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in healthy individuals to minimize misinterpretation as changes due to spondyloarthritis (SpA). MATERIALS AND METHODS: As part of a cross-sectional study of 122 SpA patients, 75 healthy individuals (42/33 males/females; median age 30.3 years; range 17.7-63.8 years) were scanned using sagittal and coronal WB short tau inversion recovery (STIR) and T1-weighted MRI sequences. The SCC region was analysed independently by seven readers for bone marrow oedema (BMO), erosions, subchondral fat signal intensity (FSI), and joint fluid accumulation. RESULTS: SCC changes simulating inflammation were reported by four or more of the seven readers in 15 (20%) healthy individuals (12 male/three female; median age 32.1 years; range 20.2-48 years). Thirteen individuals (17%) had changes at the manubriosternal joint (MSJ); five had BMO, one BMO + erosion, four erosion, two erosion + FSI, and one FSI only. Changes at the sternoclavicular joint occurred in three individuals (4%) encompassing erosion, erosion + FSI + BMO, and joint fluid accumulation, respectively. One patient had both MSJ and sternoclavicular joint changes. CONCLUSIONS: Findings mimicking inflammatory changes occurred in healthy individuals, particularly in the MSJ. Awareness of this is important in recognition of SCC inflammation in SpA.
    Clinical radiology 04/2013; · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The recently developed Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) classification criteria for axial and peripheral spondyloarthritis (SpA) are the first criteria ever to include findings on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the sacroiliac joints. Features indicating sacroiliac joint inflammation on MRI are weighted equally to structural changes on conventional radiography, and thus MRI has become an important tool for use in daily practice to evaluate patients with clinically suspected early spondyloarthritis. However, MRI can also detect structural changes such as erosions and fat infiltrations, and recent studies suggest that assessment of both inflammatory and structural changes of the sacroiliac joints may improve the diagnostic utility of MRI. The present article reviews the evidence for the use of sacroiliac joint and spinal MRI to assess patients with axial and peripheral SpA, focussing on controlled studies of patients with early SpA, which also included patients with mechanical back pain and healthy subjects, published within the last 5 years.
    Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology 12/2012; 26(6):751-66. · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Erosions of the sacroiliac joints (SIJ) on pelvic radiographs of patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) are an important feature of the modified New York classification criteria. However, radiographic SIJ erosions are often difficult to identify. Recent studies have shown that erosions can be detected also on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the SIJ early in the disease course before they can be seen on radiography. The goals of this study were to assess the reproducibility of erosion and related features, namely, extended erosion (EE) and backfill (BF) of excavated erosion, in the SIJ using a standardized MRI methodology. Four readers independently assessed T1-weighted and short tau inversion recovery sequence (STIR) images of the SIJ from 30 AS patients and 30 controls (15 patients with non-specific back pain and 15 healthy volunteers) ≤45 years old. Erosions, EE, and BF were recorded according to standardized definitions. Reproducibility was assessed by percentage concordance among six possible reader pairs, kappa statistics (erosion as binary variable) and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) (erosion as sum score) for all readers jointly. SIJ erosions were detected in all AS patients and six controls by ≥2 readers. The median number of SIJ quadrants affected by erosion recorded by four readers in 30 AS patients was 8.6 in the iliac and 2.1 in the sacral joint portion (P < 0.0001). For all 60 subjects and for all four readers, the kappa value for erosion was 0.72, 0.73 for EE, and 0.63 for BF. ICC for erosion was 0.79, 0.72 for EE, and 0.55 for BF, respectively. For comparison, the kappa and ICC values for bone marrow edema were 0.61 and 0.93, respectively. Erosions can be detected on MRI to a comparable degree of reliability as bone marrow edema despite the significant heterogeneity of their appearance on MRI.
    Arthritis research & therapy 05/2012; 14(3):R124. · 4.27 Impact Factor
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    Astrid van Tubergen, Ulrich Weber
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    ABSTRACT: Spondyloarthritis (SpA) defines a group of interrelated diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, enteropathic-related spondylitis and arthritis, and undifferentiated SpA. The clinical presentation of SpA is heterogeneous, and no single shared distinguishing feature exists for the conditions comprising SpA; in daily practice, diagnosis is usually made on the basis of a combination of symptoms, the findings of physical examination, imaging and laboratory investigations. Several classification criteria have been developed for AS and SpA, which are useful in a research setting but cannot be automatically applied to the diagnosis of individual patients. Currently, MRI is the most sensitive imaging modality available for detection of sacroiliitis, often enabling detection of axial inflammation long before structural lesions are observed radiographically, thus facilitating early diagnosis of axial SpA. However, MRI will never capture all facets of SpA and the expert opinion of a rheumatologist will remain the crucial step in recognition of this disease. In this Review, we discuss diagnosis and classification of AS and SpA, and highlight how MRI might facilitate both processes.
    Nature Reviews Rheumatology 03/2012; 8(5):253-61. · 9.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Inflammatory involvement of the anterior chest wall (ACW) affects the quality of life of patients with spondyloarthritis (SpA), although involvement of the ACW is often neglected on clinical and imaging evaluation. Whole-body (WB) MRI is an imaging method used to assess the ACW in addition to the sacroiliac joints and spine without inconvenience for patients. Our goals in this study were to describe the distribution of ACW inflammation by WB MRI in both early and established SpA and associations between clinical and imaging findings indicative of inflammation. The ACWs of 122 consecutive SpA patients (95 with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and 27 with nonradiographic SpA (nrSpA)) and 75 healthy controls were scanned by sagittal and coronal WB MRI. The MRI scans were scored independently in random order by seven readers blinded to patient identifiers. Active and structural inflammatory lesions of the ACW were recorded on a web-based data entry form. ACW pain by patient self-report, ACW tenderness on physical examination according to the Maastricht Ankylosing Spondylitis Enthesitis Score (MASES) and lesions detected by MRI were analyzed descriptively. κ statistics served to assess the agreement between clinical and imaging findings. ACW pain or tenderness was present in 26% of patients, with little difference between AS and nrSpA patients. Bone marrow edema (BME), erosion and fat infiltration were recorded in 44.3%, 34.4% and 27.0% of SpA patients and in 9.3%, 12.0% and 5.3% of controls, respectively. Lesions found by MRI occurred more frequently in AS patients (BME, erosion and fat infiltration in 49.5%, 36.8% and 33.7%, respectively) than in nrSpA patients (25.9%, 25.9% and 3.7%, respectively). The joint most frequently affected by lesions found on MRI scans was the manubriosternal joint. The κ values between clinical assessments and MRI inflammation ranged from -0.10 to only 0.33 for both AS and nrSpA patients. Among SpA patients, 26% had clinical involvement of the ACW. WB MRI signs of ACW inflammation were found in a substantial proportion of patients with AS (49.5%) and nrSpA (25.9%). There was no association between clinical assessments of ACW, including the MASES, and MRI features.
    Arthritis research & therapy 01/2012; 14(1):R3. · 4.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the past two decades, MRI has gained a major role in research and clinical management of patients with inflammatory arthritides, particularly in spondyloarthritis (SpA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and osteoarthritis (OA). MRI is regarded as the most sensitive imaging modality for detecting early SpA in young patients with inflammatory back pain and normal radiographs of the sacroiliac joints. The recently published Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society classification criteria for axial SpA include for the first time a positive MRI demonstrating sacroiliitis as an imaging criterion indicative of SpA together with at least one clinical feature of SpA. Recent data show that systematic assessment of sacroiliitis displayed on MRI has much greater diagnostic utility than previously reported and highlight the diagnostic relevance of structural lesions. In RA, MRI has predictive value for the development of disease in new onset undifferentiated arthritis, and MR pathology at disease onset is a highly significant predictor of radiographic erosions. Consequently MRI has been credited with an important role in the new ACR/EULAR 2010 classification criteria for RA. In OA, bone marrow edema (BME) and synovitis may serve as biomarkers in interventional trials. Treatment interventions targeting BME and synovitis observed on MRI in inflammatory arthritides may have a disease-modifying effect as these lesions are potentially reversible and have been shown to be associated with structural progression. Research should focus on the prognostic significance of MRI lesions in larger cohorts and whether adding MRI to routine care improves clinical and radiographic outcome in patients with inflammatory arthritides.
    Skeletal Radiology 09/2011; 40(9):1153-73. · 1.74 Impact Factor
  • Walter P Maksymowych, Ulrich Weber
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    ABSTRACT: The introduction of MRI in spondyloarthritis (SpA) constitutes a major advance and is increasingly being implemented in clinical practice in cases in which clinical suspicion of SpA is high yet pelvic radiography is equivocal. Recent studies and development of consensus by international experts support the routine use of specific MRI sequences and scanning protocols for the evaluation of the sacroiliac joints in diagnostic work-up. There is also agreement that the finding of bone marrow edema in the sacroiliac joints carries a high probability of SpA, and emerging data indicate that the finding of erosion may also be diagnostically helpful, even in preradiographic SpA. Recent studies suggest that the diagnostic role of MRI may be further enhanced through the study of additional MRI sequences and prospective studies using systematic methodologies aimed at further scrutiny of structural lesions and the contribution of spinal imaging. Interest in MRI for SpA is poised for substantial growth.
    Current Rheumatology Reports 06/2011; 13(5):402-8.
  • Ulrich Weber, Walter P Maksymowych
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    ABSTRACT: Diagnosing spondyloarthritis (SpA) early in young patients with inflammatory back pain and normal findings on radiographs of the sacroiliac joints (SIJ) remains a challenge in routine practice. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is regarded as the most sensitive imaging modality for detecting early SpA before the radiographic appearance of structural lesions. The recently published Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society classification criteria for axial SpA include for the first time a positive MRI demonstrating sacroiliitis as an imaging criterion indicative of SpA together with at least 1 clinical feature of SpA. A systematic and standardized evaluation of the SIJ in patients with SpA showed that MRI has much greater diagnostic utility than documented previously and allowed a data-driven definition of a positive MRI for SpA. Single MRI lesions suggestive of inflammation can be found in the SIJ and the spine in up to one quarter of healthy controls and young patients with mechanical back pain.
    The American Journal of the Medical Sciences 02/2011; 341(4):272-7. · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate new classification criteria for peripheral spondyloarthritis (SpA) in patients with SpA with peripheral manifestations only. In this Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) study, two prespecified sets of criteria were compared against the European Spondylarthropathy Study Group (ESSG) and Amor criteria in newly referred consecutive patients with undiagnosed peripheral arthritis, and/or enthesitis, and/or dactylitis that usually began before 45 years of age. The clinical diagnosis (SpA vs no SpA) made by the ASAS rheumatologist served as reference standard. In all, 24 ASAS centres included 266 patients, with a final diagnosis of SpA being made in 66.2%. After adjustments a final set of criteria showed the best balance between sensitivity (77.8%) and specificity (82.9%): arthritis and/or enthesitis and/or dactylitis plus (A) one or more of the following parameters: psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, preceding infection, human leucocyte antigen B27, uveitis, sacroiliitis on imaging, or (B) two or more other parameters: arthritis, enthesitis, dactylitis, inflammatory back pain in the past, family history of SpA. The new criteria performed better than modified versions of the ESSG (sensitivity 62.5%, specificity 81.1%) and the Amor criteria (sensitivity 39.8%, specificity 97.8%), particularly regarding sensitivity. In the entire ASAS population of 975 patients the combined use of ASAS criteria for axial SpA and ASAS criteria for peripheral SpA also had a better balance (sensitivity 79.5%, specificity 83.3%) than the modified ESSG (sensitivity 79.1%, specificity 68.8%) and Amor criteria (sensitivity 67.5%, specificity 86.7%), respectively. The new ASAS classification criteria for peripheral SpA performed well in patients presenting with peripheral arthritis, enthesitis and/or dactylitis.
    Annals of the rheumatic diseases 01/2011; 70(1):25-31. · 8.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To compare the diagnostic utility of T1-weighted and STIR magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences in early spondylarthritis (SpA) using a standardized approach to the evaluation of sacroiliac (SI) joints, and to test whether systematic calibration of readers directed at recognition of abnormalities on T1-weighted MRI would enhance diagnostic utility. Six readers independently assessed T1-weighted and STIR MRI scans of the SI joints from 187 subjects: 75 ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and 27 preradiographic inflammatory back pain (IBP) patients, and 26 mechanical back pain and 59 healthy volunteer controls ages ≤45 years. The exercise was repeated 6 months later on a random selection of 30 AS patients and 34 controls after calibration directed at lesions visible on T1-weighted MRI. Specific MRI lesions were recorded according to standardized definitions. In addition to deciding on the presence/absence of SpA, readers were asked which MRI sequence and which type of lesion was the primary basis for their diagnostic conclusion. Structural lesions were detected in 98% of AS patients and 64% of IBP patients. A diagnosis of SpA was based on T1-weighted or combined T1-weighted/STIR sequences in 82% of AS patients and 41% of IBP patients. Calibration enhanced the diagnostic utility of MRI in the majority of readers, especially those considered less experienced; the mean positive and negative likelihood ratios (of 6 readers) were 14.5 and 0.08 precalibration, respectively, and 22.2 and 0.02 postcalibration, respectively. Recognition of structural lesions on T1-weighted MRI contributes significantly to its diagnostic utility in early SpA. Rheumatologist training directed at detection of lesions visible on T1-weighted MRI enhances diagnostic utility.
    Arthritis care & research. 12/2010; 62(12):1763-71.
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    ABSTRACT: To systematically assess the diagnostic utility of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to differentiate patients with spondylarthritis (SpA) from patients with nonspecific back pain and healthy volunteers, using a standardized evaluation of MR images of the sacroiliac joints. Five readers blinded to the patients and diagnoses independently assessed MRI scans (T1-weighted and STIR sequences) of the sacroiliac joints obtained from 187 subjects: 75 patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS; symptom duration ≤ 10 years), 27 patients with preradiographic inflammatory back pain (IBP; mean symptom duration 29 months), 26 patients with nonspecific back pain, and 59 healthy control subjects; all participants were age 45 years or younger. Bone marrow edema, fat infiltration, erosion, and ankylosis were recorded according to standardized definitions using an online data entry system. We calculated sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative likelihood ratios (LRs) for the diagnosis of SpA based on global assessment of the MRI scans. Diagnostic utility was high for all 5 readers, both for patients with AS (sensitivity 0.90, specificity 0.97, positive LR 44.6) and for patients with preradiographic IBP (sensitivity 0.51, specificity 0.97, positive LR 26.0). Diagnostic utility based solely on detection of bone marrow edema enhanced sensitivity (67%) for patients with IBP but reduced specificity (88%); detection of erosions in addition to bone marrow edema further enhanced sensitivity (81%) without changing specificity. A single lesion of the sacroiliac joint on MRI was observed in up to 27% of control subjects. This systematic and standardized evaluation of sacroiliac joints in patients with SpA showed that MRI has much greater diagnostic utility than has been documented previously. We present for the first time a data-driven definition of MRI-visualized positivity for SpA.
    Arthritis & Rheumatology 05/2010; 62(10):3048-58. · 7.48 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

699 Citations
116.47 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2014
    • University of Alberta
      • Department of Medicine
      Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 2013
    • Aarhus University Hospital
      • Department of Radiology
      Aarhus, Central Jutland, Denmark
  • 2009–2013
    • University of Zurich
      Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2007–2013
    • Uniklinik Balgrist
      Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2012
    • Maastricht University
      • Department of Social Medicine
      Maastricht, Provincie Limburg, Netherlands