Effect of radiographic disease severity in high-resolution quantitative computed tomography assessment of metacarpophalangeal joint erosion and cysts

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Aim: Bone erosions are the hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) enables 3-dimensional visualization of arthritic bone erosions at a high resolution. However, the degree of erosive disease could influence the reliability of HR-pQCT evaluation. We aim to assess the intra- and inter-reader variability of identification of erosions in the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints using HR-pQCT in healthy controls and patients with RA, stratified according to van der Heijde-modified Sharp Score (HSS) of radiographic erosions. Method: We analyzed HR-pQCT images from 78 patients with RA and 25 healthy controls. Patients were allocated to one of three groups of mild, moderate or severe disease according to HSS of MCP joints 2 and 3. Total HR-pQCT scans were analyzed twice in random order by three experienced readers, blinded to group distribution. The number of cortical interruptions and their classification as either erosions or cysts according to predefined criteria were recorded. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) for cortical interruptions, erosions and cysts were calculated for each group using a 2-way random-effects model for inter-reader ICC and a 2-way mixed-effects model for intra-reader ICC. Results: The intra- and inter-reader ICC were good to moderate for cortical interruptions and moderate for erosions throughout disease severity groups. The ICCs for the identification of cysts decreased with increasing degree of erosive disease. Conclusion: The detection of cortical interruptions is only minimally affected by the degree of erosive damage, whereas the distinction between erosions and cysts is more complex in patients with extensive erosive disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Rheumatic Diseases
Pages (from-to)112-119
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

    Research areas

  • Heijde-modified Sharp Score, bone erosions, cortical interruptions, cysts, high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography, inter- and intra-reader reliability

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