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Joint Bone Spine. 2014 May;81(3):222-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2013.08.006. Epub 2013 Nov 5.

Ultrasound evaluation of synovitis in RA: correlation with clinical disease activity and sensitivity to change in an observational cohort study.

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RHU/CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address:
Rheumatology/HUG, Geneva, Switzerland.
Bethesda Spital AG. Basel, Switzerland.
SCQM, Zurich, Switzerland.
Rheumatology Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland.
OsteoRheuma Bern, Bahnhofplatz 1, Bern, Switzerland.



To evaluate the correlation between clinical measures of disease activity and a ultrasound (US) scoring system for synovitis applied by many different ultrasonographers in a daily routine care setting within the Swiss registry for RA (SCQM) and further to determine the sensitivity to change of this US Score.


One hundred and eight Swiss rheumatologists were trained in performing the Swiss Sonography in Arthritis and Rheumatism (SONAR) score. US B-mode and Power Doppler (PwD) scores were correlated with DAS28 and compared between the clinical categories in a cross-sectional cohort of patients. In patients with a second US (longitudinal cohort), we investigated if change in US score correlated with change in DAS and evaluated the responsiveness of both methods.


In the cross-sectional cohort with 536 patients, correlation between the B-mode score and DAS28 was significant but modest (Pearson coefficient r = 0.41, P < 0.0001). The same was true for the PwD score (r = 0.41, P < 0.0001). In the longitudinal cohort with 183 patients we also found a significant correlation between change in B-mode and in PwD score with change in DAS28 (r = 0.54, P < 0.0001 and r = 0.46, P < 0.0001, respectively). Both methods of evaluation (DAS and US) showed similar responsiveness according to standardized response mean (SRM).


The SONAR Score is practicable and was applied by many rheumatologists in daily routine care after initial training. It demonstrates significant correlations with the degree of as well as change in disease activity as measured by DAS. On the level of the individual, the US score shows many discrepancies and overlapping results exist.


Disease activity; Rheumatoid arthritis; Synovitis; US

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