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Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Nov;42(11):2303-8.

Evaluation of pannus and vascularization of the metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints in rheumatoid arthritis by high-resolution ultrasound (multidimensional linear array).

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Institut für Röntgendiagnostik, Universität Würzburg, Germany.



To evaluate the extent of intraarticular vascularization and pannus formation in metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by high-resolution ultrasound (US).


A newly developed, high-resolution multidimensional linear array US was utilized to obtain longitudinal and transverse scans of joints with active RA (n = 21), moderately active RA (n = 39), or inactive RA (n = 93), and of joints from healthy controls (n = 120).


Healthy joints had no detectable pannus, whereas pannus could be detected in 52% of the joints with active RA, 82% of the joints with moderately active RA, and 67% of the joints with inactive RA. There was a significant difference in vascularization in the joints of all subgroups of RA patients and those of healthy subjects (P < 0.001). Moreover, vascularization differed significantly among the RA subgroups: inactive versus moderately active RA (P < 0.02) and inactive versus active RA (P < 0.05). Both pannus and vascularization appeared to be localized preferentially on the radial side of the joints.


Evaluation of pannus and the extent of vascularization within the joints of patients with RA by high-resolution US might be helpful in the assessment of disease activity, and thus influence therapeutic strategies.

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