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Radiology. 2010 Nov;257(2):441-7. doi: 10.1148/radiol.10100459. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Metacarpophalangeal joints in rheumatoid arthritis: delayed gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging of cartilage--a feasibility study.

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Institute of Radiology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Moorenstrasse 5, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany. falk.miese



To evaluate the feasibility of delayed gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the cartilage of metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with that in control subjects.


Institutional review board approval and informed consent were obtained. Thirty-one MCP joints in 10 patients with RA (mean age, 59 years; range, 35-77 years) and six healthy volunteers (mean age, 51 years; range, 30-71 years) were examined with delayed gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging of cartilage. Sagittal images of the second and third MCP joints (hereafter, MCP II and MCP III) were acquired with a three-dimensional dual-flip-angle gradient-echo sequence at 3.0 T. B(1) field inhomogeneity-corrected T1 maps were calculated, and delayed gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging of cartilage values for phalangeal and metacarpal cartilage were determined. In addition, cartilage thickness was measured. A nonparametric Mann-Whitney U test was used to assess differences between groups.


Phalangeal and metacarpal delayed gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging of cartilage values in patients with RA (MCP II: 388 msec ± 105 [standard deviation] and 342 msec ± 79, respectively; MCP III: 409 msec ± 96 and 371 msec ± 89, respectively) were significantly lower than in control subjects (MCP II: 598 msec ± 62 and 560 msec ± 51, respectively; MCP III: 586 msec ± 57 and 561 msec ± 80, respectively). Cartilage thickness of both joints was comparable in patients with RA (MCP II: 1.28 mm ± 0.50, MCP III: 1.17 mm ± 0.24) and control subjects (MCP II: 1.42 mm ± 0.33, MCP III: 1.18 mm ± 0.26).


Delayed gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging of cartilage of the MCP joints is feasible at 3.0 T. Delayed gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging of cartilage may help to assess cartilage degeneration in morphologically normal-appearing MCP II and III cartilage in patients with RA.

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