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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Advances in imaging of rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Author(s): Murakami, DM
  • Bassett, LW
  • Seeger, LL
  • et al.

Several new imaging modalities have been found useful in clinical evaluation of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has proven to be an excellent noninvasive method to evaluate the spine, shoulder, hip, and knees; its use for the evaluation of smaller joints is still being investigated. In patients with RA, MR imaging has been used to evaluate cervical spine instability, rotator cuff tear, osteonecrosis, and osteomyelitis. Patients with RA may have advanced osteoporosis, predisposing to insufficiency fractures. This includes fractures associated with increased activity after hip or knee arthroplasty. Newer methods for measuring the degree of osteoporosis include single photon absorptiometry, dual photon absorptiometry, quantitative computed tomography (CT), and dual-energy projection radiography. It has not yet been determined which of these methods will be most widely used in the future, but quantitative CT and dual-energy projection radiography currently show the most promise. Ultrasonography provides an excellent noninvasive method for the diagnosis of popliteal cysts, and color Doppler sonography can differentiate cyst and popliteal aneurysm. As compared to radiography or conventional CT, high-resolution CT provides an improved method to detect the early changes of RA in the lung parenchyma.

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