Article Text

Download PDFPDF

THU0702 Are MRI-detected erosions specific for RA? a large explorative cross-sectional study
  1. D Boeters1,
  2. W Nieuwenhuis1,
  3. H van Steenbergen1,
  4. R Landewé2,
  5. M Reijnierse3,
  6. A van der Helm-van Mil1
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, LUMC, Leiden
  2. 2Department of Clinical Rheumatology and Immunology, AMC and Atrium MC, Amsterdam and Heerlen
  3. 3Department of Radiology, LUMC, Leiden, Netherlands


Background Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is recommended in the diagnostic process of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as it can detect damage at an earlier time point than conventional radiographs. However, MRI-detected erosions as defined by EULAR and included in RAMRIS are also observed in symptom-free controls, especially at older age. It is unclear how RA-specific erosions on MRI can be distinguished from physiological erosions in symptom-free individuals. Therefore this study compared MRI-detected erosions between RA-patients and healthy controls, including evaluation of the effect of age.

Objectives To compare characteristics of MRI-detected erosions (total erosion score, location and severity of erosions and simultaneous presence of MRI-detected inflammation) in metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints between RA-patients and healthy controls.

Methods 422 subjects (229 newly presenting patients with a clinical diagnosis of RA and fulfilling the 2010-criteria and 193 symptom-free controls) underwent contrast enhanced 1.5T MRI of unilateral MCP and MTP joints. The readers were blind to the clinical information. Total erosion score according to the RAMRIS method (hence a combination of number and severity), location and severity of erosions and simultaneous presence of MRI-detected inflammation (synovitis and/or bone marrow edema) were compared between groups, also in relation to age.

Results First total erosion scores were analyzed. Both in RA-patients and in controls this score was associated with age (p<0.001 in both groups). In addition, at all ages and on group level, RA-patients had 1.2 (95% CI 1.1–1.3) times higher erosion scores than controls. Despite this difference, total erosion scores could not differentiate RA-patients from controls on the individual level, as there was large overlap (Figure). Next different characteristics of erosions were explored within age groups (<40, 40–59, ≥60) to search for RA-specific features. With respect to location, erosions found in MTP5 were specific for RA (spec 90–98% for different age groups). Erosions found in MTP1 were specific for RA if subjects were aged <40 (spec 98%), but specificity decreased by increasing age (spec 86% if aged 40–59 and 63% if aged ≥60). Evaluating the severity revealed that “severe erosions” (scores ≥2) were infrequent in all subjects, but almost exclusively present in RA (spec 98–100%). Finally the simultaneous presence of erosions with inflammation was studied. In the age group <40 years, the simultaneous presence was exclusively observed in RA-patients (specificity 100%); but specificity decreased by age since the combined presence was also seen in symptom-free controls (spec 91% if aged 40–59 and 71% if aged ≥60 years).

Conclusions Whilst the group of RA-patients at disease presentation had significantly higher erosion-scores than healthy controls, scores of individual subjects were largely overlapping. Some erosion characteristics were specific for RA, but these were present in only a minority of all RA-patients (22%).

Disclosure of Interest None declared

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.