Objective: To examine the significance of power Doppler sonography (PDS) in the diagnosis of synovial hypertrophy of the knee joint by verifying and comparing the PDS findings with histopathologic findings of synovial membrane vascularity.
Methods: The knee joints of 23 patients who were undergoing arthroplasty of the knee joint because of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis were examined with ultrasound before arthroplasty. The vascularity of the synovial membrane was classified semiquantitatively using PDS. A sample of synovial tissue was obtained during the arthroplasty, and the vascularity of the synovial tissue was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (factor VIII) and was graded qualitatively by a pathologist who was unaware of the PDS findings. The visual qualitative grading by the examiner was controlled by analyzing PDS images and histologic samples using a digital image evaluation system.
Results: The correlation between the qualitative PDS results and the qualitative grading of the vascularity by the pathologist was 0.89 by Spearman's rho (P < 0.01). The Pearson correlation coefficient between the digital analysis of the PDS images and the digital analysis of the tissue sections was 0.81 (P < 0.01). Digital image analysis and qualitative grading by the examiner had a correlation of 0.89 by Spearman's p (P < 0.01) for the PDS images. The correlation between the qualitative estimation of vascularity by the pathologist and the digital image analysis was 0.88 by Spearman's rho (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: In the present study, PDS proved to be a reliable diagnostic method for qualitative grading of the vascularity of the synovial tissue. In clinical practice, PDS allows further differentiation of the hypertrophic synovium.