To identify the value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-proven bone edema in patients with very early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
All of the 13 patients included in the study were positive at entry for MRI-proven bone edema of the wrist and finger joints and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies or IgM-rheumatoid factor. A tight control approach was applied for 12 months. Plain MRI and radiographs of both wrist and finger joints were examined every 6 months. MRI was scored by the RA MRI scoring (RAMRIS) technique and plain radiographs were scored using the Genant-modified Sharp score. Variables that were correlated with plain radiographic changes at 12 months were examined.
Simplified disease activity index (SDAI) remission was achieved in 7 patients, and a significant reduction in the RAMRIS bone edema score, which declined to <33 % as compared with the baseline, was achieved in 8 out of 13 patients. Four patients showed plain radiographic progression while 9 patients did not. Significant reductions in the RAMRIS bone edema score (p = 0.007) and the time-integrated SDAI (p = 0.031) were the variables involved in plain radiographic progression.
Improvement in bone edema may be associated with protection against structural damage in very early RA patients managed using the tight control approach.
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