Background: The objectives of the present study were, with multidetector computed tomography (CT) as the reference method, to determine the performance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and radiography for the detection of bone erosions in rheumatoid arthritis wrist bones, and to test whether measuring volumes of erosions on CT and MRI is reproducible and correlated to semiquantitative assessments (scores) of erosions on CT, MRI and radiography.
Methods: Seventeen patients with rheumatoid arthritis and four healthy control individuals underwent CT, MRI and radiography of one wrist, performed on the same day. CT was performed on a Philips Mx8000IDT unit (voxel size 0.4 mm x 0.4 mm x 1 mm) and MRI was performed on a Philips Panorama 0.6T unit (voxel size 0.4 mm x 0.4 mm x 0.4 mm). Images were evaluated separately for erosions in all wrist bones and were scored according to the principles of the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Scoring System (CT and MRI) and the Sharp/van der Heijde (radiographs) scoring methods. Measurements of erosion volumes of all erosions were performed twice with a 1-week interval.
Results: With CT as the reference method, the overall sensitivity, specificity and accuracy (concordance) of MRI for detecting erosions were 61%, 93% and 77%, respectively, while the respective values were 24%, 99% and 63% for radiography. The intramodality agreements when measuring erosion volumes were high for both CT and MRI (Spearman correlation coefficients 0.92 and 0.90 (both P < 0.01), respectively). Correlations between volumes and scores of individual erosions were 0.96 for CT and 0.99 for MRI, while they were 0.83 (CT) and 0.80 (MRI) for persons' total erosion volume and total score (all P < 0.01).
Conclusion: With CT as the reference method, MRI showed moderate sensitivity and good specificity and accuracy for detection of erosions in rheumatoid arthritis and healthy wrist bones, while radiography showed very low sensitivity. The tested volumetric method was highly reproducible and correlated to scores of erosions.