The increased information provided by modern imaging has led to its more extensive use. Our aim was to develop evidence-based recommendations for the use of imaging in the clinical management of the most common arthropathy, osteoarthritis (OA). A task force (including rheumatologists, radiologists, methodologists, primary care doctors and patients) from nine countries defined 10 questions on the role of imaging in OA to support a systematic literature review (SLR). Joints of interest were the knee, hip, hand and foot; imaging modalities included conventional radiography (CR), MRI, ultrasonography, CT and nuclear medicine. PubMed and EMBASE were searched. The evidence was presented to the task force who subsequently developed the recommendations. The strength of agreement for each recommendation was assessed. 17 011 references were identified from which 390 studies were included in the SLR. Seven recommendations were produced, covering the lack of need for diagnostic imaging in patients with typical symptoms; the role of imaging in differential diagnosis; the lack of benefit in monitoring when no therapeutic modification is related, though consideration is required when unexpected clinical deterioration occurs; CR as the first-choice imaging modality; consideration of how to correctly acquire images and the role of imaging in guiding local injections. Recommendations for future research were also developed based on gaps in evidence, such as the use of imaging in identifying therapeutic targets, and demonstrating the added value of imaging. These evidence-based recommendations and related research agenda provide the basis for sensible use of imaging in routine clinical assessment of people with OA.
Keywords: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Osteoarthritis; Ultrasonography.
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