Early-stage rheumatoid arthritis: diagnostic accuracy of MR imaging

Radiology. 1996 Jan;198(1):185-92. doi: 10.1148/radiology.198.1.8539375.


Purpose: To investigate the role of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in diagnosing early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Materials and methods: Twenty patients (three men, 17 women; age range, 21-72 years) with clinically and radiologically proved RA underwent evaluation to define an MR imaging criterion for diagnosing synovial inflammation due to RA. Twenty-seven patients (16 with RA, 11 without RA [control patients]; three men, 24 women; age range, 19-75 years) suspected to have early RA but without radiographic abnormalities underwent evaluation to test the accuracy of using the criterion to diagnose RA. In each patient, coronal, fat-suppressed, and gadolinium contrast material-enhanced, T1-weighted images of both hands were obtained.

Results: The MR imaging criterion was periarticular contrast material enhancement of the wrists or the metacarpophalangeal and/or proximal interphalangeal joints in both hands. In the diagnosis of early RA, sensitivity and negative predictive value were both 100%, specificity was 73%, and accuracy was 89%.

Conclusion: MR imaging is extremely useful in diagnosing early RA.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Contrast Media
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Finger Joint / pathology
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Meglumine
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Pentetic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Synovitis / diagnosis
  • Wrist Joint / pathology


  • Contrast Media
  • Drug Combinations
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Meglumine
  • Pentetic Acid
  • Gadolinium DTPA