Imaging in rheumatoid arthritis

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Aug;25(4):569-84. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2011.10.002.


The optimal management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) requires tools that allow early and accurate disease diagnosis, prediction of poor prognosis and responsive monitoring of therapeutic outcomes. Conventional radiography has been widely used in both clinical and research settings to assess RA joint damage due to its feasibility, but it has limitations in early disease detection and difficulty distinguishing between active treatments in modern trials. Imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound (US) have the advantage of detecting both joint inflammation and damage and hence they can provide additional and unique information. This can be especially useful in the context of early and/or undifferentiated joint disease when detection of soft tissue and bone marrow abnormalities is desirable. This review focusses on the recent literature concerning modern imaging, and provides clinicians with an insight into the role of imaging in modern RA diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthrography / methods*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Joints / pathology
  • Joints / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Synovitis / diagnosis
  • Synovitis / drug therapy
  • Synovitis / physiopathology
  • Ultrasonography / methods*


  • Antirheumatic Agents