Concordance clinique et échographique dans la polyarthrite rhumatoïde

ArticleinRevue du Rhumatisme 80(6):569–576 · December 2013with 63 Reads
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Abstract
Introduction Dans la polyarthrite rhumatoïde (PR), l’examen clinique est plus rapide à réaliser que l’échographie. La connaissance de la concordance clinico-échographique des différentes articulations pourrait aider à améliorer la sélection des articulations les plus propices à l’évaluation échographique. Objectifs Évaluer la concordance entre l’examen clinique et l’échographie articulaire dans un groupe hétérogène de patients atteints de PR. Méthode Quarante patients ont été inclus dans une étude prospective, transversale, monocentrique, quel que soit le niveau d’activité de la maladie, la durée d’évolution ou le traitement reçu. Pour chaque patient, 40 articulations ont été évaluées pour un total de 1600 articulations. La synovite a été scorée en utilisant l’examen clinique, l’échographie en mode B (E-B), le Doppler puissance (DP) et l’association mode B + DP. La concordance entre le gonflement articulaire apprécié par l’examen clinique, l’épaississement synovial apprécié par l’E-B (grade 1 ou plus) et l’inflammation appréciée par le DP (grade 1 ou plus) a été évaluée en calculant le coefficient Kappa (κ). Résultats La concordance entre l’examen clinique et l’échographie était très basse aux épaules et aux métatarso-phalangiennes (MTP) (κ < 0,1) et basse au niveau des poignets (κ 0,23 à 0,30). L’E-B et le DP avaient retrouvé 2,4 et 1,4 fois plus de synovite que le gonflement objectivé par l’examen clinique, et jusqu’à 30 fois plus au niveau des MTP. La concordance était bonne concernant les articulations tibio-tarsiennes (TT) (κ 0,65 to 0,82) et modérée au niveau des autres sites (κ 0,4 to 0,6). Conclusion L’évaluation d’un groupe hétérogène à démontré que l’échographie complète l’information de l’examen clinique, particulièrement au niveau des épaules, des poignets et des MTP. La concordance était modérée à bonne concernant les autres sites articulaires.

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    To carry out a prospective two year follow up study comparing conventional radiography, three-phase bone scintigraphy, ultrasonography (US), and three dimensional (3D) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with precontrast and dynamic postcontrast examination in detecting early arthritis. The aim of the follow up study was to monitor the course of erosions during treatment with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs by different modalities and to determine whether the radiographically occult changes like erosive bone lesions of the finger joints detected by MRI and US in the initial study would show up on conventional radiographs two years later. Additionally, to study the course of soft tissue lesions depicted in the initial study in comparison with the clinical findings. The metacarpophalangeal, proximal interphalangeal, and distal interphalangeal joints (14 joints) of the clinically more severely affected hand (soft tissue swelling and joint tenderness) as determined in the initial study of 49 patients with various forms of arthritis were examined twice. The patients had initially been divided into two groups. The follow up group I included 28 subjects (392 joints) without radiographic signs of destructive arthritis (Larsen grades 0-1) of the investigated hand and wrist, and group II (control group) included 21 patients (294 joints) with radiographs showing erosions (Larsen grade 2) of the investigated hand or wrist, or both, at the initial examination. (1) Radiography at the two year follow up detected only two erosions (two patients) in group I and 10 (nine patients) additional erosions in group II. Initial MRI had already detected both erosions in group I and seven (seven patients) of the 10 erosions in group II. Initial US had depicted one erosion in group I and four of the 10 erosions in group II. (2) In contrast with conventional radiography, 3D MRI and US demonstrated an increase in erosions in comparison with the initial investigation. (3) The abnormal findings detected by scintigraphy were decreased at the two year follow up. (4) Both groups showed a marked clinical improvement of synovitis and tenosynovitis, as also shown by MRI and US. (5) There was a striking discrepancy between the decrease in the soft tissue lesions as demonstrated by clinical findings, MRI, and US, and the significant increase in erosive bone lesions, which were primarily evident at MRI and US. Despite clinical improvement and a regression of inflammatory soft tissue lesions, erosive bone lesions were increased at the two year follow up, which were more pronounced with 3D MRI and less pronounced with US. The results of our study suggest that owing to the inadequate depiction of erosions and soft tissue lesions, conventional radiography alone has limitations in the intermediate term follow up of treatment. US has a high sensitivity for depicting inflammatory soft tissue lesions, but dynamic 3D MRI is more sensitive in differentiating minute erosions.
  • Article
    To simultaneously image bone and synovium in the individual joints characteristically involved in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Forty patients with early, untreated RA underwent gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the second through fifth metacarpophalangeal joints of the dominant hand at presentation, 3 months, and 12 months. In the first phase (0-3 months), patients were randomized to receive either methotrexate alone (MTX) or MTX and intraarticular corticosteroids (MTX + IAST) into all joints with clinically active RA. The MTX-alone group received no further corticosteroids until the second phase (3-12 months), when both groups received standard therapy. In the first phase, MTX + IAST reduced synovitis scores more than MTX alone. There were significantly fewer joints with new erosions on MRI in the former group compared with the latter. During the second phase, the synovitis scores were equivalent and a similar number of joints in each group showed new erosions on MRI. In both phases, there was a close correlation between the degree of synovitis and the number of new erosions, with the area under the curve for MRI synovitis the only significant predictor of bone damage progression. In individual joints, there was a threshold effect on new bone damage related to the level of synovitis; no erosions occurred in joints without synovitis. In early RA, synovitis appears to be the primary abnormality, and bone damage occurs in proportion to the level of synovitis but not in its absence. In the treatment of patients with RA, outcome measures and therapies should focus on synovitis.
  • Article
    To evaluate the interobserver agreement of ultrasonographic assessment of finger and toe joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by 2 investigators with different medical backgrounds. Ultrasonography and clinical examination were performed on 150 small joints of 30 patients with active RA. A General Electric LOGIQ 500 ultrasound unit with a 7-13-MHz linear array transducer was used. In each patient, 5 preselected small joints (second and third metacarpophalangeal, second proximal interphalangeal, first and second metatarsophalangeal) were examined independently on the same day by 2 ultrasound investigators (an experienced musculoskeletal radiologist and a rheumatologist with limited ultrasound training). Joint effusion, synovial thickening, bone erosions, and power Doppler signal were evaluated in accordance with an introduced 4-grade semiquantitative scoring system, on which the investigators had reached consensus prior to the study. Exact agreement between the 2 observers was seen in 91% of the examinations with regard to bone erosions, in 86% with regard to synovitis, in 79% with regard to joint effusions, and in 87% with regard to power Doppler signal assessments. Corresponding intraclass correlation coefficient values were 0.78, 0.81, 0.61, and 0.72, respectively, while unweighted kappa values were 0.68, 0.63, 0.48, and 0.55, respectively. Ultrasonography showed signs of inflammation in 94 joints, while clinical assessment revealed tenderness and/or swelling in 64 joints. An experienced radiologist and a rheumatologist with limited ultrasound training achieved high interobserver agreement rates for the identification of synovitis and bone erosions, using an introduced semiquantitative scoring system for ultrasonography of finger and toe joints in RA. Signs of inflammation were more frequently detected with ultrasound than with clinical examination. Ultrasonography may improve the assessment of RA patients by radiologists and rheumatologists.
  • Article
    To assess the relationship between clinically detected swelling and effusion diagnosed by ultrasonography (US) in metatarsophalangeal (MTP) and talocrural (TC) joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Thirty consecutive patients with RA were studied. Altogether 288 MTP joints and 60 TC joints were evaluated. The clinical investigations were carried out by one doctor and the US investigations by another and they were blinded to each others' results. The clinical examination and US gave similar results in 194 MTP joints, whereas they differed in the remaining 94 MTP joints, and correspondingly the results were similar in 34 TC joints and differed in 26 TC joints. The kappa coefficient between these investigations was 0.165 in MTP joints and 0.043 in TC joints, showing very poor agreement. These preliminary results showed poor agreement between the clinical assessment of swelling and effusion detected by US in MTP and TC joints. Thus US may considerably improve the diagnosis of synovitis in patients with RA.
  • Article
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    The aim of this study is to quantify power Doppler assessment of therapeutic response in rheumatoid synovitis. 13 patients (6 male, 7 female) with rheumatoid arthritis, who had an acute exacerbation of small joint synovitis in the hands, were examined with quantitative power Doppler, before and after intravenous corticosteroid treatment. All patients were examined by a single radiologist, using an ATL HDI 5000 ultrasound machine (ATL, Boswell). The images were analysed using a specially developed software package (HDI Lab), which quantifies power Doppler signal. All patients improved clinically following treatment, which was reflected in functional disability scores, and in the C-reactive protein levels and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. In all cases, there was a significant decrease in synovial vascularity as measured by the mean amplitude of signal on quantitative power Doppler. Quantitative power Doppler may allow objective assessment of treatment in small joint synovitis.
  • Article
    To investigate sensitive ultrasonographic imaging methods for detection of synovial thickness and vascularity to discriminate between patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) receiving infliximab + methotrexate (MTX) versus placebo + MTX over 18 weeks, and to compare the relationship between synovial thickening and vascularity at baseline and radiologic damage to joints of the hands and feet at 54 weeks. Patients with early RA (duration <3 years) receiving stable dosages of MTX were randomly assigned to receive blinded infusions of 5 mg/kg infliximab (n = 12) or placebo (n = 12) at weeks 0, 2, 6, and then every 8 weeks until week 46. At baseline and week 18, clinical assessments were performed, and metacarpophalangeal joints were assessed by high-frequency ultrasonography and power Doppler ultrasonography measurements. Radiographs of the hands and feet taken at baseline and at 54 weeks were evaluated using the van der Heijde modification of the Sharp method (vdH-Sharp score). Using changes in the total vdH-Sharp score over 54 weeks and changes in synovial thickening and joint vascularity at 18 weeks, we were able to distinguish those patients receiving infusions of infliximab + MTX from those receiving placebo + MTX. Sonographic measurements of synovial thickening and vascularity at baseline in the placebo + MTX group demonstrated clear relationships with the magnitude of radiologic joint damage at week 54. Infliximab + MTX treatment abolished these relationships. The delay or reversal of inflammatory and joint-destructive mechanisms in patients with early RA was already apparent following 18 weeks of treatment with infliximab + MTX and was reflected in radiologic changes at 54 weeks.
  • Article
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    As therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) becomes more effective, more sensitive imaging methods are required to assess disease activity and joint damage. We compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), sonography, and radiography for assessment of disease activity for the detection of bony erosions. Forty-six patients with newly diagnosed RA (onset within 2 years) received clinical and laboratory assessment followed by radiographs, sonography, and MRI of the right hand at baseline and at 6 months according to a standardized protocol. We determined the presence of edema, synovitis, effusions, tendon fluid, tendon thickening, and size in the same way by MRI and sonography. The intra- and interreader reliability of MRI and radiographs and predictors of MRI erosions at 6 month followup were also examined. At baseline, 39 (85%), 14 (30%), and 17 (37%) patients had erosions identified on MRI, sonography, and radiography, respectively. Over time, the percentage of patients with erosions increased to 91% for MRI, 41% for sonography, and 48% for radiography. The absolute number of erosions increased from 177 to 239 erosions for MRI, from 30 to 43 for sonography, and from 38 to 73 for radiographs. The intra- and interreader reliability for the assessment of erosions and synovitis on MRI was acceptable (intrareader ICC of 0.60 and 0.90; interreader ICC of 0.77 and 0.89, respectively). MRI appears to be the most sensitive modality for erosive disease compared with sonography and radiography. Sonography detected more joint and tendon sheath effusions than MRI in this study and therefore may have a role in the assessment of disease activity.
  • Article
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    To determine normal anatomy of metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints at ultrasonography (US) and to compare findings with anatomic and histopathologic findings. Right hands of five cadavers (two women, three men; age range at death, 46-96 years; mean age at death, 62 years) and dominant hands of 30 volunteers (15 men, 15 women; age range, 27-74 years; mean age, 43 years) were evaluated. Nonthumb MCP joints were scanned longitudinally and transversely by two musculoskeletal radiologists working independently at US with a high-frequency linear-array transducer (frequency, 12 MHz). US appearances of intraarticular and periarticular structures were analyzed independently by these radiologists. Specimen sectioning provided anatomic and histopathologic comparisons. Interobserver precision was assessed with determination of coefficient of variation (CV). Sagittal US images enabled good visualization of the dorsal metacarpal synovial recess and the metacarpal head cartilage. In 37% of cases, a small depression (mean depth, 0.3 mm) was identified on the dorsal aspect of the metacarpal head, especially at the second MCP joint (19% of cases). Direct visualization of sagittal bands of the extensor hood was possible on dorsal transverse US scans, especially at the second and third MCP joints. In all cases, the first annular pulley was well seen on palmar transverse US scans. The radial collateral ligament of the second MCP joint was better recognized by the two observers than was the ulnar collateral ligament of the fifth MCP joint. Interobserver precision was high (CV range, 1.5%-6.5%) for intraarticular and periarticular structures. US provides detailed information about normal anatomy of nonthumb MCP joints.
  • Article
    To compare ultrasonography (US) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), conventional radiography, and clinical examination in the evaluation of bone destruction and signs of inflammation in the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Two hundred MTP joints of 40 patients with RA and 100 MTP joints of 20 healthy control subjects were assessed with B-mode US, contrast-enhanced MRI, conventional radiography, and clinical examination for signs of bone destruction and joint inflammation. With MRI considered the reference method, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of US for the detection of bone erosions were 0.79, 0.97, and 0.96, respectively, while the corresponding values for radiography were 0.32, 0.98, and 0.93. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of US for the detection of synovitis were 0.87, 0.74, and 0.79, while for clinical examination, the corresponding values were 0.43, 0.89, and 0.71. Erosive disease was identified in 26 patients by US, compared with 20 patients by MRI and 11 patients by radiography. Evaluation by US indicated signs of inflammation in 36 patients, while MRI and clinical examination revealed signs of inflammation in 31 patients and 20 patients, respectively. US and MRI volume-based gradings of synovitis showed intraclass correlation coefficients of 0.56-0.72 (P < 0.0001). The MRI and radiographic visualizations of US-detected bone changes were closely related to their size-based gradings on US. US enables detection and grading of destructive and inflammatory changes in the MTP joints of patients with RA. By comparison with MRI, US was found to be markedly more sensitive and accurate than clinical examination and conventional radiography. Considering the early and frequent involvement of the MTP joints, evaluation of these joints by US may be of major clinical importance in RA.
  • Article
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    To determine standard reference values for musculoskeletal ultrasonography in healthy adults. Ultrasonography was performed on 204 shoulders, elbows, hands, hips, knees, and feet of 102 healthy volunteers (mean age 38.4 years; range 20-60; 54 women) with a linear probe (10-5 MHz; Esaote Technos MP). Diameters of tendons, bursae, cartilage, erosions, hypoechoic rims around tendons and at joints were measured with regard to established standard scans. Mean, minimum, and maximum values, as well as two standard deviations (2 SD) were determined. Mean values +/-2 SD were defined as standard reference values. Hypoechoic rims were normally present in joints and tendon sheaths owing to physiological synovial fluid and/or cartilage. Similarly, fluid was found in the subdeltoid bursa in 173/204 (85%), at the long biceps tendon in 56 (27%), in the suprapatellar recess in 158 (77%), in the popliteal bursae in 32 (16%), and in the retrocalcaneal bursa in 49 (24%). Erosions of >1 mm were seen at the humeral head in 47 (23%). Values for important intervals were determined. The correlation between two investigators was 0.96 (0.78-0.99). The reliability of follow up investigations was 0.83 (0.52-0.99). Fluid in bursae as well as hypoechoic rims within joints and around tendons are common findings in healthy people. This study defines standard reference values for musculoskeletal ultrasonography to prevent misinterpretation of normal fluid as an anatomical abnormality.
  • Article
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    To compare the clinical assessment of overall inflammatory activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with grey scale and power Doppler (PD) ultrasonography (US). Ninety four consecutive patients with RA were included. Demographic and clinical data, C reactive protein (CRP) level, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were recorded for each patient. The presence of tenderness, swelling, and a subjective swelling score from 1 to 3 were independently assessed by two rheumatologists, who reached a consensus in 60 joints examined in each patient. All patients underwent a US examination by a third blinded rheumatologist, using PD. US joint effusion, synovitis, and PD signal were graded from 1 to 3 in the 60 joints. Joint count and joint index for effusion, synovitis, and PD signal were recorded. A 28 joint count for clinical and US variables was calculated. Interobserver reliability of the US examination was evaluated by a fourth blinded rheumatologist. US showed significantly more joints with effusion (mean 15.2) and synovitis (mean 14.6) than clinical examination (mean 11.5, p<0.05). A significant correlation was found between joint count and joint index for swelling, US effusion, synovitis, and PD signal. The 28 joint count for effusion, synovitis, and PD signal correlated highly with the corresponding 60 joint counts. US findings correlated better with CRP and ESR than clinical measures. Interobserver reliability was better for US findings than for clinical assessment. US is a sensitive method for assessing joint inflammatory activity in RA, complementary to clinical evaluation.
  • Article
    To develop an ultrasonographic (US) synovitis scoring system suitable for evaluation of finger joint inflammation in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to compare semiquantitative US scoring with quantitative US measurements. US was performed at the palmar and dorsal sides of the second through fifth metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints in 10 healthy subjects and in the clinically more affected hand in 46 RA patients. Ten patients additionally underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Synovitis was measured, standardized, and scored according to a semiquantitative method. The 2 methods (semiquantitative US scoring, quantitative US) were compared and statistical cutoffs were identified using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. MRI results were compared with semiquantitative US scoring and quantitative US results. The optimal US scoring method from 6 joint combinations was identified (ROC curve analysis). Synovitis was most frequently detected in the palmar proximal area (86% of affected joints). We found no significant differences between individual PIP joints or between individual MCP joints, indicating that all fingers within each of these joint groups should be treated equally for statistical calculations, although each joint group as a whole should be treated separately. The optimal cutoff point to distinguish between "health" and "pathology" was 0.6 mm both for MCP joints (sensitivity 94%, specificity 89%) and for PIP joints (sensitivity 90%, specificity 88%). There was no significant difference between semiquantitative US scores and quantitative US measurements. The best results for joint combinations were achieved using the "sum of 4 fingers" (second through fifth MCP and PIP joints) and "sum of 3 fingers" (second through fourth MCP and PIP joints) methods. Comparison of MRI results with semiquantitative US scores revealed high concordance. US evaluation of finger joint synovitis can be considerably simplified by focusing on the palmar side and by applying semiquantitative grading instead of quantitative measurements. For evaluation of treatment efficacy based on synovitis in RA patients, we recommend using the "sum of 3 fingers" method in longitudinal trials.
  • Article
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    To perform a prospective long term follow up study comparing conventional radiography (CR), ultrasonography (US), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the detection of bone erosions and synovitis in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) finger joints. The metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints II-V (128 joints) of the clinically dominant hand of 16 patients with RA were included. Follow up joint by joint comparisons for erosions and synovitis were made. At baseline, CR detected erosions in 5/128 (4%) of all joints, US in 12/128 (9%), and MRI in 34/128 (27%). Seven years later, an increase of joints with erosions was found with CR (26%), US (49%) (p<0.001 each), and MRI (32%, NS). In contrast, joint swelling and tenderness assessed by clinical examination were decreased at follow up (p = 0.2, p<0.001). A significant reduction in synovitis with US and MRI (p<0.001 each) was seen. In CR, 12 patients did not have any erosions at baseline, while in 10/12 patients erosions were detected in 25/96 (26%) joints after 7 years. US initially detected erosions in 9 joints, of which two of these joints with erosions were seen by CR at follow up. MRI initially found 34 erosions, of which 14 (41%) were then detected by CR. After 7 years, an increase of bone erosions was detected by all imaging modalities. In contrast, clinical improvement and regression of synovitis were seen only with US and MRI. More than one third of erosions previously detected by MRI were seen by CR 7 years later.
  • Article
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    Ultrasound (US) has great potential as an outcome in rheumatoid arthritis trials for detecting bone erosions, synovitis, tendon disease, and enthesopathy. It has a number of distinct advantages over magnetic resonance imaging, including good patient tolerability and ability to scan multiple joints in a short period of time. However, there are scarce data regarding its validity, reproducibility, and responsiveness to change, making interpretation and comparison of studies difficult. In particular, there are limited data describing standardized scanning methodology and standardized definitions of US pathologies. This article presents the first report from the OMERACT ultrasound special interest group, which has compared US against the criteria of the OMERACT filter. Also proposed for the first time are consensus US definitions for common pathological lesions seen in patients with inflammatory arthritis.
  • Article
    To investigate the validity of reduced joint counts for ultrasonographic (US) assessment of joint inflammatory activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Ninety-four patients with RA were included. C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) levels were recorded for each patient. The presence of tenderness, swelling and a subjective swelling score from 0 to 3 were assessed by two rheumatologists who reached consensus in 60 joints examined in each patient. All patients underwent an US examination by a third blinded rheumatologist, using power Doppler (PD). US joint effusion, synovitis and PD signal were graded from 0 to 3 in the 60 joints. A 60-joint count and index for effusion, synovitis and PD signal were recorded. A 6-, 10-, 16-, 18-, and two 12-joint counts and indices for US parameters that included the most frequently US involved joints were calculated for each patient. A 12-joint assessment for effusion, synovitis and PD signal, including bilateral wrist, second and third MCP, second and third PIP of hands and knee joints highly correlated with corresponding 60-joint US counts and indices. This reduced-joint US evaluation showed a similar correlation with clinical and laboratory parameters of disease activity to corresponding 60-joint assessment. We propose that a 12-joint evaluation may be a useful tool for US assessment of overall joint inflammatory activity in RA.
  • Article
    The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between swelling detected on physical examination and effusion diagnosed by ultrasonography (US) in glenohumeral (GH) joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Fifty consecutive patients with RA entered the study and 20 healthy control persons formed a control group. Altogether 100 GH joints of the RA patients and 40 of the controls were evaluated. The clinical assessments were carried out by one doctor and the US investigations by another, and they were blinded to each other's results. The clinical examination and US gave similar results in 70 GH joints, whereas they differed in the remaining 30 GH joints. The kappa coefficient between these investigations was 0.202, showing poor agreement. These results showed poor agreement between the clinical assessment of swelling and effusion detected by US in GH joints. Therefore, US may considerably improve the accuracy of diagnosis of effusion in GH joints, which usually means synovitis in patients with RA.
  • Article
    More timely and effective therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has contributed to increasing rates of clinical remission. However, progression of structural damage may still occur in patients who have satisfied remission criteria, which suggests that there is ongoing disease activity. This questions the validity of current methods of assessing remission in RA. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that modern joint imaging improves the accuracy of remission measurement in RA. We studied 107 RA patients receiving disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy who were judged by their consultant rheumatologist to be in remission and 17 normal control subjects. Patients underwent clinical, laboratory, functional, and quality of life assessments. The Disease Activity Score 28-joint assessment and the American College of Rheumatology remission criteria, together with strict clinical definitions of remission, were applied. Imaging of the hands and wrists using standardized acquisition and scoring techniques with conventional 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasonography (US) were performed. Irrespective of which clinical criteria were applied to determine remission, the majority of patients continued to have evidence of active inflammation, as shown by findings on the imaging assessments. Even in asymptomatic patients with clinically normal joints, MRI showed that 96% had synovitis and 46% had bone marrow edema, and US showed that 73% had gray-scale synovial hypertrophy and 43% had increased power Doppler signal. Only mild synovial thickening was seen in 3 of the control subjects (18%), but no bone marrow edema. Most RA patients who satisfied the remission criteria with normal findings on clinical and laboratory studies had imaging-detected synovitis. This subclinical inflammation may explain the observed discrepancy between disease activity and outcome in RA. Imaging assessment may be necessary for the accurate evaluation of disease status and, in particular, for the definition of true remission.
  • Article
    We evaluated clinically and sonographically the effects of etanercept therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over 12 months of treatment. Eighteen patients affected by RA who were non-responders or partial responders to disease modifying therapy were commenced on Etanercept treatment. Before starting therapy (T0) and at 12 months (T1), the following parameters were evaluated: erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain, number of painful and swollen joints, health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) and disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS 28). Musculoskeletal ultrasound (US) was performed in the following joints: second and fifth metacarpophalangeal, third interphalangeal, wrist and knee joints and a semiquantitative score (0-3) calculated and used to indicate the presence of a localised inflammatory process (synovitis, tenosynovitis, bursitis) and/or structural damage (bone erosion and cartilaginous change). An overall score was calculated based on the sum of the single scores to obtain a comprehensive score indicative of the global pathological change. The US global scores significantly reduced between T0 and T1 (p < 0.0001). The following laboratory and clinical parameters also significantly reduced: ESR (p < 0.0001), CRP (p < 0.02), VAS (p < 0.001), number of total swollen joints (p < 0.001), number of total painful joints (p < 0.01), HAQ scores (p < 0.05) and DAS 28 (p < 0.0001). A positive response to treatment with Etanercept was demonstrated both by US examination of several joints and by clinical evaluation of several parameters. US is a useful tool in the monitoring of biologic therapy in RA, assessing both inflammatory and destructive changes.
  • Article
    To evaluate by clinical, laboratory, and sonographic assessment the effects of adalimumab therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over 24 months of treatment. Twenty-five patients with RA were commenced on adalimumab therapy. Before the beginning of the therapy (Time 0) and after 3 (T1), 12 (T2), and 24 (T3) months we evaluated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, physician and patient visual analog scale for disease activity, number of tender and swollen joints, Health Assessment Questionnaire, and Disease Activity Score in 28 joints. In addition, musculoskeletal ultrasound (US) was performed bilaterally in the 2nd and 5th metacarpophalangeal, 3rd interphalangeal, wrist, and knee joints and in the tendon sheaths and bursae of those areas. A semiquantitative score (0 3) was used to indicate the presence of a localized inflammatory process and/or structural damage. The summed total was used as an indicator of global change in each joint (single joint score). The sum of the single joint scores was used as an indicator of overall polyarticular involvement in each patient (total score). Patients who did not submit to the planned examinations strictly on time were excluded from the study. Then 25 patients were examined at T0 and T1, 20 at T2, and 9 at T3. All clinical and laboratory measures as well as the US scores were significantly reduced during the followup. A positive response to treatment with adalimumab was demonstrated by clinical, laboratory, and US evaluation by both short- and longterm followup.
  • Article
    To investigate the validity, reproducibility, and responsiveness of a simplified power Doppler ultrasound (PDUS) assessment of joint inflammation compared with a comprehensive 44-joint PDUS assessment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who started therapy with a biologic agent. A total of 160 patients with active RA who started a biologic agent were prospectively recruited in 18 Spanish centers. The patients underwent clinical and laboratory assessment and blinded PDUS examination at baseline and 6 months. A PDUS examination of 128 synovial sites in 44 joints was performed. US synovitis and PD signal were semiquantitatively graded from 1 to 3 in all synovial sites. US count and index for synovitis and PD signal were obtained. PDUS intraobserver and interobserver reliability were evaluated. A process of data reduction based on the frequency of involvement of synovial sites by both synovitis and PD signal was conducted. Construct and discriminant validity of a simplified PDUS assessment was investigated. A PDUS simplified assessment including 24 synovial sites from 12 joints detected 100% of patients with synovitis and 91% of patients with PD signal. There was a highly significant correlation between the 44-joint count and index for synovitis and PD signal and the 12-joint count and index for synovitis and PD signal at baseline and 6 months (r = 0.84-0.90, P < 0.0005). The smallest detectable difference was lower than the mean change in simplified PDUS variables. A 12-joint PDUS assessment of RA joint inflammation may be a valid, feasible method for multicenter monitoring of therapeutic response to biologic agents.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    To determine the prevalence of subclinical synovitis using ultrasound (US) imaging of both painful and asymptomatic joints, in patients with early (<12 months), untreated oligoarthritis (</=5 joints). Eighty patients underwent a detailed clinical assessment by two physicians. All painful joints were identified, which were immediately scanned by a sonographer. In the last 40 patients, an additional standard group of joints was scanned to establish the prevalence of synovitis in asymptomatic joints. In 80 patients, 644 painful joints (with and without clinical synovitis) were identified and each underwent a US assessment. Of these joints, 185 had clinical synovitis, of which, US detected synovitis in only 79% (147/185). In the other 38 joints US demonstrated tenosynovitis instead of synovitis in 12 joints and possible, but not definite, synovitis in 11 joints. Fifteen joints were, however, normal on US. In 459 joints that were not clinically synovitic, US detected synovitis in 33% (150/459). In 64% (51/80) of patients, US detected synovitis in more joints than clinical examination and in 36% (29/80) of patients, US detected a polyarthritis (>6 joints). Of the 826 asymptomatic (non-painful) joints scanned, 13% (107/826) had US detected synovitis. Sonography detected more synovitis than clinical examination in patients with oligoarthritis. In almost two thirds of patients there was evidence of subclinical disease while one third could be reclassified as polyarticular. These findings suggest that a definition of oligoarthritis based purely on clinical findings may be inappropriate, which may have important implications for disease management.