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Rheumatol Int. 2013 Aug;33(8):2061-7. doi: 10.1007/s00296-013-2694-3. Epub 2013 Feb 12.

Erosive and inflammatory joint changes in hereditary hemochromatosis arthropathy detected by low-field magnetic resonance imaging.

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Martin-Luther-University Hospital Halle (Saale), Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.


The aim of the article is to describe and characterize the hemochromatosis arthropathy of the hand by low-field MRI in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Forty-nine patients with hereditary hemochromatosis (37 with and twelve without arthropathy) were examined clinically and by low-field MRI of the hands. The examination showed heterogeneous degenerative and inflammatory joint changes such as erosions (in 84% of all symptomatic patients), synovitis (77%), bone marrow edema (38%), subchondral cysts (30%), tenosynovitis (30%), joint space narrowing (73%) and osteophytes (59%) including hook-shaped osteophytes at MCP joints (32%). Mild joint changes were also seen in a lower percentage of asymptomatic patients. This is the first larger study addressing the joint changes of the hand in hereditary hemochromatosis using low-field MRI. Our study emphasizes the inflammatory and destructive character of the arthropathy besides the well-known degenerative joint changes described in conventional X-ray. The impact of joint changes in asymptomatic patients deserves further investigation.

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