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Magnetic resonance imaging in spondyloarthritis: Friend or Foe?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has emerged as a valuable tool for early detection and of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). A standardized imaging acquisition protocol, aligned with the current state-of-the-art, is crucial to obtain MRI scans that meet the diagnostic quality requirements. It is important to note that certain lesions, particularly bone marrow edema (BME), can be induced by mechanical stress or be a manifestation of another non-inflammatory disorder and may mimic the characteristic findings of axSpA on MRI. Therefore, a thorough assessment of MRI lesions, considering their localization and presence of highly specific features such as erosions and backfill, becomes imperative. Additionally, the application of additional imaging modalities, when necessary, can contribute to the differentiation of axSpA from other conditions that may exhibit similar MRI findings. This review provides recommendations on how to perform MRI in daily clinical practice and how to interpret finding from the differential diagnostic point of view.

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