Musculoskeletal ultrasound versus MRI of the hands in healthy subjects – a pilot study

Mihaela Micu, Sorana D. Bolboaca, Georgeta M. Rusu, Carmen B. Crivii, Carolina M. Solomon


Aim: High resolution imaging methods detect a spectrum of inflammatory-like and structural modifications at joint and tendon level in healthy subjects. The knowledge of their extent and degree is important when subclinical disease activity (implying therapy reassessment) must be differentiated from normality. Musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) evaluation may be challenging even for experts when borderline or low grade lesions are present. Our objective was to analyse the frequency of inflammatory-like lesions in hand joint and tendons in healthy young subjects and to evaluate the concordance between MSUS
and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.

Material and methods: Ten healthy young women (age range 24-32 years) clinically asymptomatic (joints and tendons) were selected to have bilateral hand MSUS and MRI evaluation. Based on current definitions, synovitis/tenosynovitis-like lesions, erosions, osteophytes and bone edema were quantified and concordance between the two imaging methods was calculated.

Results: Overall, both imaging evaluation methods showed a low frequency of inflammatory-like and structural lesions. No joint presented power Doppler signal or erosions. No abnormalities suggestive for inflammatory or structural pathology were detected at the tendon compartments level. No erosions and no signs of osteitis were detected. The concordance between MSUS and MRI findings was high except for the wrist area.

Conclusion: MSUS was demonstrated to be a very accurate imaging method, mostly for hand tendon evaluation. This would allow a better discrimination between normality and pathologic findings, adding supplementary information.


musculoskeletal ultrasound; Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); joints; tendons; healthy subjects

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