The value of scintigraphy in predicting development of new erosions in small peripheral joints was studied by visual evaluation of scintigrams and by three computerised methods. In 13 patients with newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis a total of 387 joints were examined clinically, scintigraphically, and radiographically. The follow up period was 24 months. Four eroded joints in three patients were found at the onset. Of the joints which were to become eroded, 46/47 were scintigraphically active at all the check ups. Erosions were detected earlier in foot joints than in finger joints. New erosions were especially prone to appear in joints with persisting and high scintigraphic activity. On the contrary, inactive joints by repeated scanning never eroded. Scintigraphic and clinical activity and radiographic erosiveness correlated significantly with each other. The sensitivity and specificity of visual scintigraphic assessment and the relative pixel activity method proved to be superior to the region of interest methods and clinical evaluation for prediction of erosiveness.
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