Ultrasonography detection of early bone erosions in the metacarpophalangeal joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2004 Nov-Dec;22(6):743-8.


Objective: To compare ultrasonography (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in their capability to detect bone erosions in early-advanced rheumatoid arthritis, where no erosion was evident on conventional radiography (X-ray).

Methods: Metacarpophalangeal (MCP), radiocarpal and ulnocarpal joints of 13 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, with bone erosion that was not detected by conventional X-ray, were examined by US and MRI. Ten controls underwent examination of the same joints by US.

Results: None of the controls showed bone erosions at US examination. No significant difference between US and MRI in detecting bone erosion was observed in wrist joints, whereas a significantly higher number of erosions was detected by US in MCP joints.

Conclusion: US is at least as sensitive as MRI in detecting bone erosions in MCP and wrist joints. Since US examination is a more easily available and less expensive procedure than MRI, our findings justify its use as a diagnostic tool for early arthritis. In addition US may also be utilized in the follow up of patients with an established diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Carpal Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Carpal Bones / pathology
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography
  • Wrist Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Wrist Joint / pathology