Objective: To introduce a new standardized ultrasound score based on 7 joints of the clinically dominant hand and foot (German US7 score) implemented in daily rheumatologic practice.
Methods: The ultrasound score included the following joints of the clinically dominant hand and foot: wrist, second and third metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal, and second and fifth metatarsophalangeal joints. Synovitis and synovial/tenosynovial vascularity were scored semiquantitatively (grade 0-3) by gray-scale (GS) and power Doppler (PD) ultrasound. Tenosynovitis and erosions were scored for presence. The scoring range was 0-27 for GS synovitis, 0-39 for PD synovitis, 0-7 for GS tenosynovitis, 0-21 for PD tenosynovitis, and 0-14 for erosions. Patients with arthritis were examined at baseline and after the start or change of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) and/or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) inhibitor therapy 3 and 6 months later. C-reactive protein level, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide, Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28), and radiographs of the hands and feet were performed.
Results: One hundred twenty patients (76% women) with rheumatoid arthritis (91%) and psoriatic arthritis (9%) were enrolled. In 52 cases (43%), erosions were seen in radiography at baseline. Patients received DMARDs (41%), DMARDs plus TNFalpha inhibitors (41%), or TNFalpha inhibitor monotherapy (18%). At baseline, the mean DAS28 was 5.0 and the synovitis scores were 8.1 in GS ultrasound and 3.3 in PD ultrasound. After 6 months of therapy, the DAS28 significantly decreased to 3.6 (Delta = 1.4), and the GS and PD ultrasound scores significantly decreased to 5.5 (-32%) and 2.0 (-39%), respectively.
Conclusion: The German US7 score is a viable tool for examining patients with arthritis in daily rheumatologic practice because it significantly reflects therapeutic response.