Objective: To compare the relationship between bone mineral density (BMD) in the metacarpal bones and forearm measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and digital X-ray radiogrammetry (DXR) and radiological alterations in patients with early and established rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients and methods: In each of the three disease duration groups, 11 female RA patients were included. The patients were further divided into two groups according to bone erosions. BMD in the metacarpals was evaluated by DXA and DXR.
Results: A significant relationship between DXA-BMD and DXR-BMD was observed. DXR-BMD and the individually combined cortical thickness (CT) of the metacarpo-phalangeal (MCP) joints were related to disease duration and erosions. Patients with erosive disease had lower values of age- and sex-adjusted BMD measured with DXA, but most significantly with DXR.
Conclusion: DXR appears to be a more sensitive method than DXA in detecting early bone loss in patients with RA. The relationship of DXR-BMD to disease duration and bone damage indicates that the DXR method may be useful in the evaluation of disease activity and progression.