Objective: The purpose of this study is to describe the appearance of tenosynovitis in various tendon groups in the wrist and hand and to compare MR enhanced and non-enhanced imaging evaluation of tenosynovitis of hand and wrist in inflammatory arthritis.
Design and patients: We reviewed 72 MRI studies of hands and wrists, including coronal, axial and sagittal images in 30 consecutive patients with inflammatory arthritis and tenosynovitis. We compared the degree of synovitis on T2-weighted vs contrast-enhanced T1-weighted images, using a predetermined scale. We also measured the extent of tenosynovitis in three dimensions. The tendons were assigned to volar, dorsal, ulnar and radial groups in the wrist and to extensor, flexor and thumb groups in the hand. Degree of tenosynovitis (graded 0-3), cross-sectional area and volume of the inflamed synovium in various tendon groups were then compared by statistical analysis.
Results: Review of the medical records revealed the following diagnoses in our patient population: rheumatoid arthritis (n=16), unspecified inflammatory polyarthritis (n=9), psoriatic arthritis (n=2), CREST syndrome (n=1), systemic lupus erythematosus (n=1), paraneoplastic syndrome with arthritis (n=1). The average T2 brightness scores and post-gadolinium enhancement scores were 1.0 and 1.7, respectively (P<0.001) in the wrist studies. The average T2 brightness scores and post-gadolinium enhancement scores were 0.7 and 1.4, respectively (P<0.001) in the hand studies. The average sensitivity of T2-weighted imaging for detection of tenosynovitis was 40% in the hand and 67% in the wrist tendons, when contrast-enhanced images were used as a reference. Carpal tunnel flexor tendons were the most frequently affected tendons of the wrist. The most frequently affected tendons of the hand were second and third flexor tendons. The hand flexors demonstrated higher degrees of enhancement and larger volumes of the inflamed tenosynovium than did the hand extensors and tendons of the thumb.
Conclusion: Enhanced MR imaging of the hand and wrist is a superior technique for detection of tenosynovitis. We observed carpal tunnel flexor tendons to be the most frequently affected tendons of the wrist. The flexor tendons of the second and third digits were the most frequently affected tendons of the hands. Higher contrast-enhancement scores and inflammation were noted in the hand flexor than in the extensor tendons.