Objective: To assess ultrasound findings in patients with rheumatoid arthritis affecting the hand and wrist compared to normal volunteers.
Design: Metacarpophalangeal and carpal articulations were imaged ultrasonically. Two readers reviewed static images for synovial, cartilaginous, and bony abnormalities using severity and probability scales. Ultrasound findings were correlated with disease activity.
Patients: Ten normal volunteers and 29 patients with known rheumatoid arthritis.
Results: Synovial abnormalities and erosions were most commonly identified in the rheumatoid hand and wrist (p < 0.01). Criteria used for normal and abnormal cartilage did not predict normal and disease states. Significant differences in synovial abnormalities and erosions were observed between the inactive and mildly active disease groups as well as the active and mildly active disease groups (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: Ultrasound can detect abnormalities of the hand and wrist in patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared to normal volunteers. Normal articular anatomy is well demonstrated ultrasonically.