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Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2012 Aug;4(4):301-11. doi: 10.1177/1759720X11436240.

Imaging in ankylosing spondylitis.

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1
Department of Rheumatology, Copenhagen University Hospital at Glostrup, Nordre Ringvej 57, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark.

Abstract

Imaging is an integral part of the management of patients with ankylosing spondylitis and axial spondyloarthritis. Characteristic radiographic and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings are key in the diagnosis. Radiography and MRI are also useful in monitoring the disease. Radiography is the conventional, albeit quite insensitive, gold standard method for assessment of structural damage in spine and sacroiliac joints, whereas MRI has gained a decisive role in monitoring disease activity in clinical trials and practice. MRI may also, if ongoing research demonstrates a sufficient reliability and sensitivity to change, become a new standard method for assessment of structural damage. Ultrasonography allows visualization of peripheral arthritis and enthesitis, but has no role in the assessment of axial manifestations. Computed tomography is a sensitive method for assessment of structural changes in the spine and sacroiliac joints, but its clinical utility is limited due to its use of ionizing radiation and lack of ability to assess the soft tissues. It is exciting that with continued dedicated research and the rapid technical development it is likely that even larger improvements in the use of imaging may occur in the decade to come, for the benefit of our patients.

KEYWORDS:

ankylosing spondylitis; computed tomography; imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; radiography; spondyloarthritis; ultrasonography; ultrasound

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