FRIDAY, Feb. 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) — There is a consistent association between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of damage in the wrist and hand and self-reported loss of function in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in sustained clinical remission, according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.

Daniel Glinatsi, M.D., Ph.D., from the Copenhagen Center for Arthritis Research at Rigshospitalet in Glostrup, Denmark, and colleagues performed wrist/hand MRIs and radiographs of wrists/hands/feet in 114 established RA patients in clinical remission before tapering their biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. The associations between damage reflected on imaging studies and assessments for health status, pain, and hand function were examined.

Seventy patients had relapses. The researchers found that MRI-assessed damage was associated with impaired health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) and Short-Form 36 physical component summary at remission and relapse, independent of clinical and radiographic measures. MRI-assessed damage was also associated with most of the hand-related HAQ items. The Sharp/van der Heijde method scores were not associated with patient-reported outcomes. At neither remission nor relapse was MRI-assessed inflammation associated with patient-reported outcomes.

“In analyses where MRI and X-ray damage were simultaneously compared with physical function, the associations between MRI damage and physical function [were] stronger than those between X-ray damage and physical function,” the authors write.

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