as an objective measure, ultrasound (US) could prevent rheumatoid arthritis (RA) overtreatment induced by concomitant fibromyalgia (FM). Our goal was to study how patients with RA and FM who underwent a US examination differed from those without a US examination in terms of overall disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) escalation and biologic DMARD-related direct costs.
Patients with RA and FM were seen between 2011 and 2017. In cases of 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) overestimation, patients were referred to undergo a US examination. The US group underwent a US examination to confirm disease activity, and the DAS28 group had disease activity assessment based solely on the DAS28.
Of 230 patients with RA, 22 women with RA and FM (DAS28 group, n = 9; and US group, n = 13) were seen in 316 visits (115.68 patient-years). The DMARD treatment was escalated in 27.1% of visits in the DAS28 group versus 17.3% in the US group (P = .046). The relative risk of DMARD escalation in the DAS28 group compared to the US group was 1.57 (95% confidence interval, 1.01-2.43). In sum total, US$240,784.52 were spent on biologics throughout the entire study period. Basing biologic DMARD prescriptions on US results could save an average of US$405.66 per patient-year.
In this real-life study of patients with RA and FM, a US examination was associated with less DMARD escalation and could reduce biologic DMARD direct costs. Specifically, synovitis as scored by power Doppler US could be useful as a treatment target for RA in patients with DAS28 overestimation due to FM, but further studies are necessary.

© 2020 by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.