Assessment of cortical interruptions in the finger joints of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis using HR-pQCT, radiography, and MRI

Michiel Peters, Astrid van Tubergen, Andrea Scharmga, Annemariek Driessen, Bert van Rietbergen, Daan Loeffen, Rene Weijers, Piet Geusens, Joop van den Bergh

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Small cortical interruptions may be the first sign of an erosion, and more interruptions can be found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with healthy subjects. First, we compared the number and size of interruptions in patients with RA with healthy subjects using high-resolution peripheral quantitative CT (HR-pQCT). Second, we investigated the association between structural damage and inflammatory markers on conventional radiography (CR) and MRI with interruptions on HR-pQCT. Third, the added value of HR-pQCT over CR and MRI was investigated. The finger joints of 39 patients with RA and 38 healthy subjects were examined through CR, MRI, and HR-pQCT. CRs were scored using the Sharp/Van der Heijde method. MRI images were analyzed for the presence of erosions, bone marrow edema, and synovitis. HR-pQCT images were analyzed for the number, surface area, and volume of interruptions using a semiautomated algorithm. Descriptives were calculated and associations were tested using generalized estimating equations. Significantly more interruptions and both a larger surface area and the volume of interruptions were detected in the metacarpophalangeal joints of patients with RA compared with healthy subjects (median, 2.0, 1.42 mm2, and 0.48 mm3 versus 1.0, 0.69 mm2, and 0.23 mm3, respectively; all p < 0.01). Findings on CR and MRI were significantly associated with more and larger interruptions on HR-pQCT (prevalence ratios [PRs] ranging from 1.03 to 7.74; all p < 0.01) in all subjects, and were consistent in patients with RA alone. Having RA was significantly associated with more and larger interruptions on HR-pQCT (PRs, 2.33 to 5.39; all p < 0.01), also after adjustment for findings on CR or MRI. More and larger cortical interruptions were found in the finger joints of patients with RA versus healthy subjects, also after adjustment for findings on CR or MRI, implying that HR-pQCT imaging may be of value in addition to CR and MRI for the evaluation of structural damage in patients with RA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1676-1685
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018



  • Bone Density
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Cortical Bone/diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Finger Joint/diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid/diagnostic imaging

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