JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Diagnostic accuracy of point-of-care ultrasound for evaluation of early blood-induced joint changes: Comparison with MRI.

INTRODUCTION: Recurrent joint bleeding is the hallmark of haemophilia. Synovial hypertrophy observed with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is associated with an increased risk of future joint bleeding.

AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate whether point-of-care ultrasound (POC-US) is an accurate alternative for MRI for the detection of early joint changes.

METHODS: In this single centre diagnostic accuracy study, bilateral knees and ankles of haemophilia patients with no or minimal arthropathy on X-rays were scanned using POC-US and 3 Tesla MRI. POC-US was performed by 1 medical doctor, blinded for MRI, according to the "Haemophilia Early Arthropathy Detection with Ultrasound" (HEAD-US) protocol. MRIs were independently scored by 2 radiologists, blinded for clinical data and ultrasound results. Diagnostic accuracy parameters were calculated with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

RESULTS: Knees and ankles of 24 haemophilia patients (96 joints), aged 18-34, were studied. Synovial hypertrophy on MRI was observed in 20% of joints. POC-US for synovial tissue was correct (overall accuracy) in 97% (CI: 91-99) with a positive predictive value of 94% (CI: 73-100) and a negative predictive value of 97% (CI: 91-100). The overall accuracy of POC-US for cartilage abnormalities was 91% (CI: 83-96) and for bone surface irregularities 97% (CI: 91-99).

CONCLUSION: POC-US could accurately assess synovial hypertrophy, bone surface irregularities and cartilage abnormalities in haemophilia patients with limited joint disease. As POC-US is an accurate and available alternative for MRI, it can be used for routine evaluation of early joint changes.

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