The possibility of detection of structural damage on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of sacroiliac joints raises the question of whether MRI can substitute radiographs for diagnostic evaluation and to a further extent for classification of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). In this viewpoint, we will argue that it is time to replace conventional radiographs with MRI for the assessment of structural changes in sacroiliac joints. This message is based on current data on the following questions: (1) How reliable are conventional radiographs in the diagnosis of axSpA overall and radiographic axSpA in particular? (2) How does T1-weighted MRI compare to radiographs in the detection of sacroiliitis? (3) Are there now other (better) MRI sequences than T1-weighted, which might be more suitable for the detection of structural lesions? (4) Which MRI sequences should be performed for the diagnostic evaluation of the sacroiliac joints? (5) Do we have data to define sacroiliitis based on structural changes detected by MRI?
- Spondylitis, Ankylosing
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
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Handling editor Josef S Smolen
Contributors All authors contributed to the conception of the work, drafting and revising the manuscript and approved the final versions.
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 DP: research support from AbbVie, Eli Lilly, MSD, Novartis and Pfizer; consulting fees from AbbVie, Biocad, Eli Lilly, Galapagos, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, MSD, Moonlake, Novartis, Pfizer, Samsung Bioepis and UCB; speaker fees from AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen, MSD, Medscape, Novartis, Peervoice, Pfizer and UCB. TD: research grants to the institution from Canon MS and the Berlin Institute of Health; consulting and lecture fees from Eli Lilly, Novartis, MSD, Roche and Canon MS. XB: grants from Abbvie, BMS, Eli-Lilly, Galapagos, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sandoz, Sanofi and UCB; consulting fees from Abbvie, BMS, Eli-Lilly, Galapagos, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sandoz, Sanofi and UCB; honoraria from Abbvie, BMS, Eli-Lilly, Galapagos, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sandoz, Sanofi and UCB; meeting attendance support from Abbvie, BMS, Eli-Lilly, Galapagos, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sandoz, Sanofi and UCB; leadership roles as editorial board member of Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, ASAS president. KGAH: consulting fees from AbbVie and lecture honoraria from Novartis, Pfizer and MSD; cofounder of BerlinFlame GmbH. JS: honoraria for consultancy or being a member of a speaker’s bureau from Abbvie, Novartis, MSD and UCB.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, conduct, reporting or dissemination plans of this research.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.