Evaluation of a Novel Semi-Automated Ultrasound System for the Detection of Synovitis: A Prospective Study involving 45 Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ultrasound Int Open. 2016 Nov;2(4):E117-E123. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-115774. Epub 2016 Sep 14.


Background: Arthrosonography has proven to be more sensitive and reliable for the detection of synovitis than clinical examination, but a comprehensive examination of small joints is time-consuming. The automated breast volume scanner (ABVS) has been developed to allow automatic and reproducible series of consecutive B-mode pictures of the female breast. Objectives: To analyze the comparability of ABVS and conventional manual ultrasonography (mUS) for the detection of synovitis in hands and feet of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods: 45 patients with early and established active rheumatoid arthritis were recruited for this trial. All subjects were assessed clinically and by manual (Esaote MyLab70) and automated ultrasound (ACUSON S2000™ ABVS). The wrists, the metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints of the hands and the metatarsophalangeal joints of the feet were examined. Results: A total of 2 340 joint aspects were examined with both methods. ABVS detected 291 grade 1, 124 grade 2, 100 grade 3 cases of synovitis (515 in total) compared to 267, 180 and 145 cases of synovitis (592 in total) with mUS. 242 erosions and 52 cases of tenosynovitis were found by ABVS compared to 244 erosions and 99 cases of tenosynovitis found by mUS. Kappa coefficients for the agreement between both methods ranged from 0.51 in PIP joints to 0.71 in MCP joints. The correlations with clinical parameters as well as interrater agreements were comparable for both ultrasound methods. Conclusion: Based on the results, ABVS seems to be a promising technology for the comprehensive and time-saving assessment of synovitis in RA.

Keywords: arthritides; fingers and toes; technical aspects; ultrasound.