Prediction of radiographic damage in hands and feet in rheumatoid arthritis by clinical evaluation

Clin Rheumatol. 1994 Sep;13(3):487-91. doi: 10.1007/BF02242948.


Radiography of hands and feet is a standard measure of outcome in rheumatoid arthritis. We hypothesised that this radiological information can be reproduced by clinical evaluation. A rheumatologist examined 78 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and tried to predict the radiological Larsen score, for the proximal interphalangeal (PIP), metacarpophalangeal (MCP), wrist, ankle, and metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints. Spearman correlation between clinical Larsen and X-ray Larsen was 0.79 for hands and 0.66 for feet. There was no significant difference in scores for PIP, MCP, wrists, or ankles, but MTP joints were underscored by clinical Larsen relative to X-ray Larsen (median of 20 vs 22 respectively, p = 0.04). Categorical data for index finger MCP joints showed significant proportional agreement of 37% (Kappa 0.24, p < 0.0001). In conclusion, the Larsen X-ray score can be predicted by clinical examination with surprising accuracy in the small hand joints but less so in the feet. Although the favourable agreement shown in this study does not make X-rays redundant, we suggest that clinical examination of the hands should be further refined and standardised as a measure of outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Foot / diagnostic imaging*
  • Foot / pathology
  • Hand / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hand / pathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Severity of Illness Index