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Whole-body MRI for the investigation of joint involvement in inflammatory arthritis.

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Freeston, Jane 
Larkman, Neal 
Rowbotham, Emma 
Emery, Paul 


OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to develop a novel whole-body MRI protocol capable of assessing inflammatory arthritis at an early stage in multiple joints in one examination. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty-six patients with inflammatory joint symptoms and 9 healthy volunteers underwent whole-body MR imaging on a 3.0 T MRI scanner in this prospective study. Image quality and pathology in each joint, bursae, entheses and tendons were scored by two of three radiologists and compared to clinical joint scores. Participants were divided into three groups based on diagnosis at 1-year follow-up (healthy volunteers, rheumatoid arthritis and all other types of arthritis). Radiology scores were compared between the three groups using a Kruskal-Wallis test. The clinical utility of radiology scoring was compared to clinical scoring using ROC analysis. RESULTS: A protocol capable of whole-body MR imaging of the joints with an image acquisition time under 20 min was developed with excellent image quality. Synovitis scores were significantly higher in patients who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 12 months (p < 0.05). Radiology scoring of bursitis showed statistically significant differences between each of the three groups-healthy control, rheumatoid arthritis and non-rheumatoid arthritis (p < 0.05). There was no statistically significant difference in ROC analysis between MRI and clinical scores. CONCLUSION: This study has developed a whole-body MRI joint imaging protocol that is clinically feasible and shows good differentiation of joint pathology between healthy controls, patients with rheumatoid arthritis and patients with other forms of arthritis.


Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in Leeds for providing the equipment and expertise required for this study. We also wish to thank Versus Arthritis (formerly Arthritis Research UK) for funding Dr. Freeston’s Clinician Scientist fellowship, of which this study was a core component. Additionally, we would like to thank Dr. Richard Hodgson for assisting with the radiology scoring and radiographers Rob Evans, Dr. Carole Burnett and Brian Chaka for their assistance in acquiring the data. This is independent research funded by Versus Arthritis (previously Arthritis Research UK) and carried out at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leeds Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Versus Arthritis, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Funder: Versus Arthritis; doi:


Whole-body MR imaging, Magnetic resonance imaging, Inflammatory arthritis, Humans, Prospective Studies, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Synovitis, ROC Curve, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Wrist Joint

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Skeletal Radiol

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC