Ann Rheum Dis doi:10.1136/ard.2010.128504
  • Basic and translational research
  • Concise report

Structural and inflammatory sonographic findings in erosive and non-erosive osteoarthritis of the interphalangeal finger joints

  1. Gust Verbruggen
  1. Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Gent, Gent, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ruth Wittoek, Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Gent, 0K12-IB, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Gent, Belgium; ruth.wittoek{at}
  • Accepted 25 June 2010
  • Published Online First 6 August 2010


Objective The objectives were: (1) to determine if ultrasound (US) can detect more erosions in erosive osteoarthritis (EOA) of the interphalangeal (IP) joints than conventional radiography (CR); and (2) to explore the frequency of structural and inflammatory findings in EOA and non-EOA.

Methods Structural changes and the anatomical phase were scored on CR in IP joints of 31 patients with EOA and 7 patients with non-EOA. Structural and inflammatory changes were scored by US. The frequency of sonographic findings was compared between the anatomical phases and between EOA and non-EOA by generalised estimation equation (GEE) modelling.

Results US detected 68 of 72 (94.4%) erosions seen on CR. US detected 45 additional erosive joints in EOA. The frequency of joint effusion and power Doppler signal was similar in EOA compared to non-EOA (p=0.91 and p=0.68, respectively). Statistically significantly more synovitis was present in full erosive phase compared to non-erosive phases in EOA (p=0.04). No differences in inflammatory findings were found between non-erosive phases in EOA and non-EOA.

Conclusion US is capable of detecting erosions in radiographic non-erosive phases. The highest frequency of synovitis is present in erosive joints but inflammatory findings are common in all anatomical phases of EOA and non-EOA.


  • Funding RW is a research fellow supported by a Ghent University Coordinated Research Initiative (GOA) grant (BOF07/GOA/002).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University Hospital Gent, Belgium.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.