Objective: To compare a new MRI scoring system of the sacroiliac joints (SIJs) in early spondylarthropathy (SpA) with clinical and laboratory parameters.
Methods: Forty-one patients (24 males, 17 females) with a median age of 26 yr and a median duration of inflammatory low back pain of 19 months were included. They all fulfilled the ESSG-criteria for SpA. The patients were examined by MRI of the SIJs using a new scoring system. Clinical examinations, biochemical tests, functional score (BASFI), and pain score (BASDAI) were also performed.
Results: 95% of the patients had inflammation and/or destructive bone changes of the SIJs at MRI. No correlation was found between MRI pathology and clinical findings. MRI demonstrated significantly greater severity of both inflammation and destruction of the SIJs in HLA B27 positive patients than in the HLA B27 negative patients.
Conclusions: In patients with early SpA, MRI was able to detect inflammatory and destructive changes of the SIJs, but the changes were not associated to clinical findings. Our results suggest a role of MRI in the detection of early-stage sacroiliitis.