Objective: To investigate the relationship between synovial vascularity assessed by quantitative power Doppler sonography (PDS) and progression of structural bone damage in a single finger joint in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: We studied 190 metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints and 190 proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints of 19 patients with active RA who had initial treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Patients were examined by clinical and laboratory assessments throughout the study. Hand and foot radiography was performed at baseline and the twentieth week. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed at baseline. PDS was performed at baseline and the eighth week. Synovial vascularity was evaluated according to both quantitative and semiquantitative methods.
Results: Quantitative PDS was significantly correlated with the enhancement rate of MRI in each single finger joint. Comparing quantitative synovial vascularity and radiographic change in single MCP or PIP joints, the level of vascularity at baseline showed a significant positive correlation with radiographic progression at the twentieth week. The change of vascularity in response to DMARDs, defined as the percentage change in vascularity by the eighth week from baseline, was inversely correlated with radiographic progression in each MCP joint. The quantitative PDS method was more useful than the semiquantitative method for the evaluation of synovial vascularity in a single finger joint.
Conclusion: The change of synovial vascularity in a single finger joint determined by quantitative PDS could numerically predict its radiographic progression. Using vascularity as a guide to consider a therapeutic approach would have benefits for patients with active RA.