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Acta Radiol. 1988 Jul-Aug;29(4):457-60.

Ultrasonography of the hand in rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Radiologic Service, Istituti Clinici Di Perfezionamento, CTO, Milan, Italy.


High resolution ultrasonography of the hand and wrist was performed on 20 patients with definite or probable rheumatoid arthritis (ARA standard criteria) in its early stage. In all the patients, swelling of the soft tissues of the fingers corresponded to an enlargement of the joint capsule containing a hypoechoic exudate. The rheumatoid nodules appeared as fluid-filled rounded cavities with sharp borders. Rheumatoid tenosynovitis was observed in 18/20 patients. This corresponded to oval or spindle-shaped cavities with a hypoechoic (10/18 cases) or anechoic content (8/18 cases) and with the tendon ribbon inside. Rupture of a tendon was diagnosed in 8/20 cases and it was always confirmed at surgery. Tenosynovitis of the flexor carpi ulnaris at the wrist level was observed in 10/20 patients. Ultrasonography is proposed as an effective first-line approach and as a periodical follow-up survey in early stage rheumatoid arthritis, in combination with standard radiography.

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