Objective: To explore whether synovitis and bone lesions in the wrists and finger joints visualized by plain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based findings correspond exactly or not to those judged by gadolinium-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (Gd-DTPA)-enhanced MRI-based findings.
Methods: Magnetic resonance imaging of the wrists and finger joints of both hands were examined in 51 early-stage rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients whose median disease duration from the onset of articular manifestations to entry was 5 months, by both plain (T1 and short-time inversion recovery images) and Gd-DTPA-enhanced MRI (post-contrast fat-suppressed T1-weighted images) simultaneously. We focused on 15 sites per hand, to examine the presence of synovitis and bone lesions (bone edema and bone erosion). Gd-DTPA-enhanced MRI-based findings were considered "true" lesions, and we evaluated the accuracy of plain MRI-based findings in comparison to Gd-DTPA-enhanced MRI-based findings.
Results: Synovitis, judged by plain MRI-based findings, appeared as false-positive at pretty frequency; thus, the specificity, positive predictive value and accuracy of the findings were low. The rate of enhancement (E-rate) in false-positive synovitis sites was significantly low compared with true-positive synovitis sites where Gd-DTPA enhancement appears. In contrast to synovitis, the false-positivity of bone lesions, judged by plain MRI-based findings, was very low compared with Gd-DTPA-enhanced MRI-based findings.
Conclusion: Synovitis judged by plain MRI-based findings is sometimes considered false-positive especially in sites where synovitis is mild. However, plain MRI is effective in identifying bone lesions in the wrist and finger joints in early-stage RA.