Ultrasound (US) has numerous advantages when used to examine joints in children compared to other imaging modalities. This include non-invasiveness, rapidity of performance, easy repeatability, high patient acceptability and lack of exposure to ionizing radiation. In addition, it does not require sedation for scanning in younger children. US is more sensitive than physical examination and may detect early disease that is not evident on physical examination. Lack of standardized precise definitions of grey scale (GS) and Power Doppler (PD) US findings in different age groups was the biggest limitation for its use. Additional difficulty is age dependent variability of normal sonoanatomy, due to maturation and ossification in children. That is why acquisition, interpretation and comparison of US images are completely different than in adults and had to be addressed specifically. All this may affect the validity of the technique, and without defined standardized examination technique, US can be a challenge in the childhood population. On the other hand, US as an imaging technique is considered to be examiner and equipment dependent. Studies resulting in good intra and inter-reader reliability and validity, based on specific definitions, are essential for its application as a diagnostic tool. Recently developed standardized image acquisition methodology, definitions of joint components in healthy children, as well as, definitions for synovitis components and its grading in GS and PD in children will be presented in details.
US allow precise and thorough visualization of inflammatory and destructive joint abnormalities, including synovial hyperplasia, joint effusion, cartilage damage, bone erosion, tenosynovitis and enthesopathy. In JIA ultrasound is considered particularly useful for its ability to detect subclinical synovitis and improve classification of JIA patients into the subtypes. Current evidences about application of ultrasound in JIA can improve definition of remission necessary to optimize treatment strategies. Due to peculiarities of US examination and image acquisition in children additional educational efforts among pediatric rheumatologists are required for expanding this imaging modality in daily practice.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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