Radiologic signs of joint healing can be accurately identified in RA patients

מתוך medicontext.co.il
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients followed for many years, signs of joint healing can be accurately identified on standard radiographs, according to a recent report by German investigators.

Emphasis is often placed on radiologic signs of disease progression in RA patients, and the ability to identify disease improvement is expected to become increasingly important as new rapidly acting antirheumatic drugs become available. In the current study, Dr. R. Rau, from Evangelisches Fachkrankenhaus in Ratingen, and colleagues wanted to determine if radiologic signs of RA joint healing could be identified by different observers in a blinded fashion.

Three physicians reviewed 24 sets of joint radiographs with healing phenomena and 10 with progressive disease without healing, taken 2 to 8 years apart. The films were read in pairs in random order. Signs of healing included reappearance of the cortical plate, filling in of an erosion, and subchondral bone sclerosis with osteophyte formation.

Of 1292 joints assessed, 74 demonstrated evidence of healing. On average, these joints were identified 89% of the time by the three physicians. All physicians correctly identified joints without signs of healing, the authors state in the December issue of The Journal of Rheumatology.

Radiologic signs of healing can be observed in RA patients followed for several years. "These phenomena can be identified by different observers with high sensitivity even when the observers are blinded to chronological sequence of the films," the researchers conclude.

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