[Primary chronic polyarthritis of the knee joint]

Radiologe. 1996 Aug;36(8):617-23. doi: 10.1007/s001170050119.
[Article in German]


Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, multisystemic disease. The characteristic feature is persistent inflammatory synovitis. The knee joint is commonly involved with synovial hypertrophy, chronic effusion, and frequently ligamentous laxity. Pain and swelling behind the knee may be caused by extension of inflamed synovium into the popliteal space (Baker's cyst). Plain radiographs of the knee joint remain the basic radiological procedure, although early in the disease they might not provide significant changes. Sonography sufficiently reveals synovial fluid and Baker cysts, but cannot be recommended for evaluation of synovial proliferations or pannus formation. Computer tomography has only limited indications and may be used for the evaluation of subtle erosive lesions or the quantitation of osteoporotic changes. Magnetic resonance imaging has shown excellent visualization of cartilage, fluid, synovium and soft tissues and is the method of choice for the demonstration of early affection and the evaluation of pannus activity and therapy control. With administration of contrast agents (gadolinium), dynamic studies may demonstrate inflammatory activity. Modern MR sequences, such as T1 SE "fat sat" or magnetization transfer, further improve the discrimination of cartilage, pannus and synovial fluid.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint* / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology
  • Synovitis / diagnosis