Ultrasonography in the diagnosis and management of patients with inflammatory arthritides

Eur J Intern Med. 2014 Feb;25(2):103-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2013.08.700. Epub 2013 Sep 14.


In primary care and internal medicine settings clinicians are often reluctant to take advantage of the resources that ultrasonography (US) offers as a diagnostic tool in the initial management of patients with inflammatory arthritis, despite the recognised importance of an accurate and timely diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and of early referral to ensure optimal patient management. Both grey-scale (GS) and power Doppler (PD) imaging have been extensively used in early detection of synovitis and bone erosions in patients with inflammatory arthritides. We reviewed the main data on the clinical use of US in the initial management of patients with inflammatory arthritis, focusing on RA diagnosis in patients with undifferentiated arthritis, prediction of disease severity, differential diagnoses and assessment of synovitis in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The role of US in assessing treatment response and monitoring disease activity in clinical remission was also briefly evaluated. The reliability of US as a diagnostic tool in rheumatological diseases has greatly advanced in the last years and the use of this imaging technique, in association with conventional assessments such as physical examination and serological tests, should be considered more often also in primary care settings.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Inflammatory arthritis; Rheumatoid arthritis; Ultrasonography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Arthritis / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / complications
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Synovitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Synovitis / drug therapy
  • Synovitis / etiology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color


  • Antirheumatic Agents