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MRI Imaging Technique May Help Differentiate Arthritis

Posted Apr 05 2010 7:00am

Psoriasis Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immune disease marked by inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissue. Psoriatic arthritis is a condition related to psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that is also an auto-immune disease. Psoriatic arthritis is usually confined to the knees, ankles, and joints in the feet.

Treatment for psoriatic arthritis has generally been based on that given for RA since the two are difficult to distinguish from each other. However, current research indicates that the type of therapy used, including medication, should to be tailored for each type of arthritis. A recent study has resulted in the ability to use imaging to correctly diagnose the diseases.

According to the study’s lead author, Nina F. Schwenzer, MD, “Clinically, it may be difficult to distinguish psoriatic arthritis from rheumatoid arthritis because the symptoms of both diseases are similar and the diagnostic tests currently available to aid in the differentiation of psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis are not always sufficient.”

“The perfusion (or uptake) of contrast media in psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is presumed to be different,” said Dr. Schwenzer.

“Our study revealed a significant difference in perfusion between those patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis after 15 minutes. However, since it was a small group of patients and there was an overlap in perfusion values between both types of arthritis, a diagnosis could not be led by contrast-enhanced MRI alone. Our results are nonetheless promising though,” she said.

“As our study suggests, the use of contrast-enhanced MRI could play an important role in differentiating psoriatic arthritis from rheumatoid arthritis,” she said.

This study appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

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