Near-infrared Fluorescence Optical Imaging in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Comparison to Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Ultrasonography

Michaela Krohn, Sarah Ohrndorf, Stephanie G Werner, Bernd Schicke, Gerd-Rüdiger Burmester, Bernd Hamm, Marina Backhaus, Kay-Geert A Hermann
Journal of Rheumatology 2015, 42 (7): 1112-8

OBJECTIVE: Near-infrared fluorescence optical imaging (FOI) is a novel imaging technology in the detection and evaluation of different arthritides. FOI was validated in comparison to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), greyscale ultrasonography (GSUS), and power Doppler ultrasonography (PDUS) in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS: Hands of 31 patients with early RA were examined by FOI, MRI, and US. In each modality, synovitis of the wrist, metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP) 2-5, and proximal interphalangeal joints (PIP) 2-5 were scored on a 4-point scale (0-3). Sensitivity and specificity of FOI were analyzed in comparison to MRI and US as reference methods, differentiating between 3 phases of FOI enhancement (P1-3). Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were calculated to evaluate the agreement of FOI with MRI and US.

RESULTS: A total of 279 joints (31 wrists, 124 MCP and 124 PIP joints) were evaluated. With MRI as the reference method, overall sensitivity/specificity of FOI was 0.81/0.00, 0.49/0.84, and 0.86/0.38 for wrist, MCP, and PIP joints, respectively. Under application of PDUS as reference, sensitivity was even higher, while specificity turned out to be low, except for MCP joints (0.88/0.15, 0.81/0.76, and 1.00/0.27, respectively). P2 appears to be the most sensitive FOI phase, while P1 showed the highest specificity. The best agreement of FOI was shown for PDUS, especially with regard to MCP and PIP joints (ICC of 0.57 and 0.53, respectively), while correlation with MRI was slightly lower.

CONCLUSION: FOI remains an interesting diagnostic tool for patients with early RA, although this study revealed limitations concerning the detection of synovitis. Further research is needed to evaluate its full diagnostic potential in rheumatic diseases.

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