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Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2001 Mar;15(1):91-104.

Imaging the joints in early rheumatoid arthritis.

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Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Research Unit, University of Leeds, 36 Clarendon Road, Leeds, LS2 9NZ, UK.


Radiography is the most widely utilized imaging modality for early rheumatoid arthritis, determination of radiographic progression remaining a crucial part of the evaluation of therapy. Conventional radiography is, however, insensitive for showing bone damage in early disease and is totally unsuitable for assessing synovial inflammation. The recognition of these limitations has led to intense interest in the multiplanar imaging capabilities of magnetic resonance imaging in rheumatoid arthritis and to an increasing use of ultrasonography for assessing synovitis and bone damage. This chapter discusses the role of radiography in early rheumatoid arthritis and the emerging use and role of magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography in evaluating synovitis and bone damage. The relationship between synovitis and bone damage is also addressed in the light of recent magnetic resonance imaging observations.

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