Objective To define the role of ultrasound (US) for the assessment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in clinical remission, including joint and tendon evaluation.
Methods A multicentre longitudinal study has been promoted by the US Study Group of the Italian Society for Rheumatology. 25 Italian centres participated, enrolling consecutive patients with RA in clinical remission. All patients underwent complete clinical assessment (demographic data, disease characteristics, laboratory exams, clinical assessment of 28 joints and patient/physician-reported outcomes) and Power Doppler (PD) US evaluation of wrist, metacarpalphalangeal joints, proximal interphalangeal joints and synovial tendons of the hands and wrists at enrolment, 6 and 12 months. The association between clinical and US variables with flare, disability and radiographic progression was evaluated by univariable and adjusted logistic regression models.
Results 361 patients were enrolled, the mean age was 56.20 (±13.31) years and 261 were women, with a mean disease duration of 9.75 (±8.07) years. In the 12 months follow-up, 98/326 (30.1%) patients presented a disease flare. The concurrent presence of PD positive tenosynovitis and joint synovitis predicted disease flare, with an OR (95% CI) of 2.75 (1.45 to 5.20) in crude analyses and 2.09 (1.06 to 4.13) in adjusted analyses. US variables did not predict the worsening of function or radiographic progression. US was able to predict flare at 12 months but not at 6 months.
Conclusions PD positivity in tendons and joints is an independent risk factor of flare in patients with RA in clinical remission. Musculoskeletal ultrasound evaluation is a valuable tool to monitor and help decision making in patients with RA in clinical remission.
- rheumatoid arthritis
- disease activity
Statistics from Altmetric.com
GF and GS contributed equally.
Handling editor Josef S Smolen
Contributors GF and GS contributed equally to interpretation of data and drafting the work. CAS, GC and FR contributed equally to study design and analysis of data. All authors contributed to the acquisition of data, revising critically the work, approved the final version of the manuscript and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None required.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval The local ethics committee of each participating centre.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data available.
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.