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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a low field dedicated extremity MRI unit for detection of bone erosions, synovitis, and bone marrow oedema in wrist and metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints, with a high field MRI unit as the standard reference. METHODS: In 37 patients with RA and 28 healthy controls MRI of the wrist and 2nd-5th MCP joints was performed on a low field MRI unit (0.2 T Esaote Artoscan) and a high field MRI unit (1.0 T Siemens Impact) on 2 subsequent days. MRI was performed and evaluated according to OMERACT recommendations. Additionally, conventional x ray, clinical, and biochemical examinations were performed. In an initial low field MRI "sequence selection phase", based on a subset of 10 patients and 10 controls, sequences for comparison with high field MRI were selected. RESULTS: With high field, spin echo MRI considered as the reference method, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of low field 3D gradient echo MRI for erosions were 94%, 93%, 94%, while the corresponding values for x ray examination were 33%, 98%, and 83%. Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of low field MRI for synovitis were 90%, 96%, and 94%, and for bone marrow oedema 39%, 99%, and 95%. Intraclass correlation coefficients between low field and high field scores were 0.936 (p<0.005) for bone erosions and 0.923 (p<0.05) for synovitis. CONCLUSION: Low field MRI provides high accuracy for detection and grading of erosions and synovitis, with high field MRI as the standard reference. For bone marrow oedema, specificity is high, but sensitivity only moderate. Low cost, patient compliant, low field dedicated extremity MRI provides similar information on bone erosions and synovitis as expensive high field MRI units.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Rheum Dis

Publication Date





1280 - 1287


Adult, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Bone Marrow Diseases, Edema, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Metacarpophalangeal Joint, Middle Aged, Radiography, Sensitivity and Specificity, Synovitis, Wrist Joint