Introduction: Radiographic features of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are very characteristic and differ from those observed in rheumatoid arthritis, especially in two aspects: 1) the distribution of affected joints (i.e. DIP joints), 2) the presence of destructive changes and bone proliferation at the same time. A scoring method for PsA, therefore, has to account for these characteristics of PsA.
Objective: To develop, describe and validate a method for scoring radiographic changes in patients with PsA.
Description of the method: Forty joints of the hands and feet are scored for destruction and proliferation. In the destruction score (DS) grading on a 0-5 scale is based on the amount of joint surface destruction: 0 = normal, 1 = one or more erosions with an interruption of the cortical plate of > 1 mm with destruction of the total joint surface up to 10%, 2 = 11-25%, 3 = 26-50%, 4 = 51-75%, 5 = > 75% joint surface destruction. The proliferation score (PS) sums up any kind of bony proliferation typical for PsA; graded 0-4: 0 = normal, 1 = bony proliferation of 1-2 mm or bone growth < 25% of the original size (diameter), 2 = bony proliferation 2-3 mm or bone growth 25-50%, 3 = bony proliferation > 3 mm or bone growth > 50%, 4 = bony ankylosis. The DS (0-200) and the PS (0-160) can be summed up to the total score (0-360). VALIDATION OF THE METHOD: To validate the method x-rays of 20 patients with active PsA taken 3 years apart were read twice in pairs, knowing the chronological order but not knowing demographic, clinical or laboratory data of the patients. The data were analyzed with a hierarchical analysis of variance model.
Results: There was good agreement between the first and the second reading of the same rater and between the two raters regarding the destruction score. The agreement regarding the proliferation score was lower but still acceptable. The reliability of the method to describe change over time--relation of progression (intra-patient variance) to the measurement error (inter-rater variance)--was 3.9 for the DS, 2.8 for the PS and 4.1 for the total score. The minimal detectable change when the readings of two raters were compared (inter-rater MDC) was 5.8, 5.0 and 4.6%, respectively of the maximum possible score for the destruction, the proliferation and the total score. These data compare very well with the results of standard scoring methods in rheumatoid arthritis.
Conclusion: We propose a method for scoring radiographic change in psoriatic arthritis which reliably quantifies the progression of the disease seen on radiographs.