Hand tendon involvement in rheumatoid arthritis: an ultrasound study

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Jun;41(6):752-60. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2011.09.006. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


Objective: To assess the prevalence and the distribution of tendon involvement in the hands and wrists of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) describing in detail the ultrasound (US) morphostructural and vascular tendon abnormalities.

Methods: Ninety consecutive RA patients were included in the study. The following tendons were scanned bilaterally: flexor pollicis longus tendon, flexor digitorum superficialis, and profundus tendons of the II to the V fingers (at both finger and carpal tunnel levels), flexor carpi radialis tendon, and extensor tendons of the 6 compartments on the dorsal aspect of the wrist. The presence of US findings indicative of tenosynovitis and tendon damage was investigated.

Results: Tenosynovitis was found in at least 1 anatomic site of 44 (48.8%) of 90 patients. Tendon damage was found in at least 1 anatomic site of 39 (43.3%) of 90 patients. The focal tendon echotexture derangement was found in 294 of 5400 (5.4%) tendons, the partial and complete tears in 14 (0.3%), and in 3 (0.06%) tendons, respectively. The most frequently involved tendons were the flexor tendons of the II, III, and IV fingers and the extensor carpi ulnaris tendon.

Conclusions: The present study provides evidence in favor of the ability of US to reveal a relatively high frequency of tendon involvement at the hand and wrist level in RA patients. These data can both facilitate US examinations in daily clinical practice and direct further investigations in the US assessment of tendon involvement in RA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Hand / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Synovitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tendons / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography