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BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 06 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1098
  1. Harvey Marcovitch, syndication editor (
  1. BMJ

    MRI predicts functional deterioration in rheumatoid arthritis

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the wrist can predict prognosis for newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis. Forty two patients were followed for six years with scans, x rays, a standard measure of physical function, and a validated patient centred questionnaire. Abnormality on scans—specifically, baseline bone oedema—predicted physical function at six years, which in turn correlated with patients' self reported health assessment. Standard clinical and radiographic baseline measures, did not predict the degree of ultimate impairment. Since most erosive disease starts within 2-3 years of onset of symptoms, the investigators speculate that early use of disease modifying antirheumatic drugs such as sulfasalazine and methotrexate and tumour necrosis factorα inhibitors may reduce or prevent joint damage because of their anti-erosive effects. Consequently magnetic resonance imaging may be helpful in …

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