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Not only synovitis but also tenosynovitis needs to be considered: why it is time to update textbook images of rheumatoid arthritis
  1. Cleo Rogier1,
  2. Silvia Hayer2,
  3. Annette van der Helm-van Mil1,3
  1. 1 Rheumatology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands
  2. 2 Division of Rheumatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  3. 3 Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Professor Annette van der Helm-van Mil, Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden 2300 RC, The Netherlands; A.H.M.van_der_Helm{at}

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is typically represented as synovitis and bone erosions of small joints. This classic picture resulted from comparing patients with RA with other rheumatic joint diseases for clinical and radiographic characteristics. Although different classification criteria for RA have been developed over time, this classic picture has not changed since the mid-20th century. During the last decennium, advanced imaging modalities, such as MRI and musculoskeletal ultrasound (US), have refined our understanding of tissues involved in RA. We will argue that tenosynovitis at the level of the hand and feet joints is a feature that deserves to be added as the third classic trait of RA.

A feature can be considered as a disease trait when it occurs frequently and is specific, and when a new trait is considered its connection with the disease is not a substitute of an already acknowledged classic feature. We will study the occurrence of tenosynovitis in RA in the light of these principles.

Many, but not all, tendons at the hand and feet joints are surrounded by a sheath.1 2 Tendon sheaths have a cell composition …

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  • Handling editor Gerd R Burmester

  • Contributors All authors wrote the manuscript. AvdH-vM supervised the process.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

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