New imaging modalities play an increasing important role in the investigation and management of inflammatory rheumatic diseases (e.g. vasculitis), providing image data in three dimensions and highest resolution by different tomographic techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and high-resolution computerized tomography (HR-CT) or even endoscopic techniques such as miniarthroscopy or capsule endoscopy. Furthermore, functional imaging techniques such as single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) can reveal metabolizing bone and the proliferation of cells by radioactive labelling. Combined procedures such as fully integrated SPECT-CT and PET-MRI allow the accurate co-registration of both, morphological and functional alterations in inflammatory organ processes in one session. Bioluminescence and fluorescence reflectance imaging, respectively molecular imaging targeting such as new radio ligants (MR labelling), are other approaches that provide imaging on molecular level, either for diagnostics or for monitoring therapeutic effects of modern drugs and agents, this in an experimental setting or on the edge of clinical implication. The ability of modern imaging applications to detect metabolic and functional tissue changes before the development of anatomic and structural abnormalities make it an attractive tool for early diagnosis, as well as for monitoring of response to therapy in the management and understanding of a variety of autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. The future of imaging already has begun.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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