Cervical spine involvement in rheumatoid arthritis: MR imaging

Radiology. 1987 Oct;165(1):159-63. doi: 10.1148/radiology.165.1.3628763.


Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the cervical spine was employed in 18 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and suspected cervical involvement. Fifteen patients had symptoms referable to the cervical spine, and seven had neurologic deficits. In three patients who were asymptomatic with regard to the neck, MR imaging was performed because of abnormal cervical radiographs. Cervical radiographs were available for all patients; bone erosion was evident in 14, subluxation in 17, and no abnormalities in one. MR imaging demonstrated indentation or abnormal signal in the caudal brain stem and/or cervical spinal cord in ten patients, including the seven with related neurologic deficits; discrete indentation or distortion of the dura without visible morphologic effect on the underlying neuraxis was observed in five other patients. In all patients with neurologic symptoms, cord or brain-stem abnormalities were seen on MR images. MR imaging therefore appears to provide valuable information regarding the status of the spinal cord and dura in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Brain Stem / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / diagnosis
  • Joint Dislocations / etiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / etiology
  • Time Factors