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Extended report
Ultrasound-detected inflammation predicts radiographic progression in hand osteoarthritis after 5 years
  1. Alexander Mathiessen,
  2. Barbara Slatkowsky-Christensen,
  3. Tore K Kvien,
  4. Hilde Berner Hammer,
  5. Ida K Haugen
  1. Department of Rheumatology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alexander Mathiessen, Department of Rheumatology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, P.O. Box 23, Vinderen, Oslo N-0319, Norway; alexander_mathiessen{at}


Objective To examine whether ultrasound predicts radiographic hand osteoarthritis (OA) progression after 5 years.

Methods We included 78 participants (71 women, mean (SD) age 67.8 (5.2) years) from the Oslo Hand OA cohort with ultrasound examination (gray-scale (GS) synovitis and power Doppler (PD) signals) at baseline and conventional radiographs and clinical examination at baseline and 5-year follow-up. Radiographic progression was defined as an increase in global OA according to the Kellgren–Lawrence (KL) scale or progression of individual radiographic OA features. We examined whether baseline ultrasound features and clinical examination predicted radiographic progression using generalised estimating equations, adjusted for age, sex, body mass index and follow-up time.

Results Radiographic progression occurred in 17.9% joints for KL, 12.1% for joint space narrowing, 11.7% for osteophytes and 4.5% for erosions. Ultrasound-detected inflammation predicted KL progression, and dose–response associations were observed for GS synovitis grade 1 (OR=2.8, 95% CI 1.8 to 4.2), grade 2 (OR=3.6, 95% CI 2.2 to 5.8) and grade 3 (OR=15.2, 95% CI 6.9 to 33.6), and for PD signal grade 1 (OR=2.9, 95% CI 1.2 to 6.8) and grades 2–3 (OR=12.0, 95% CI 3.5 to 41.0). Significant associations were also observed between ultrasound inflammation and progression of all individual radiographic features, and between clinical soft tissue swelling at baseline and radiographic progression.

Conclusions Ultrasound-detected GS synovitis and PD signals were significantly associated with radiographic progression after 5 years. This study supports the use of ultrasound as a tool to detect patients with hand OA who are likely to progress.

  • Ultrasonography
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammation

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