Reasons for discordances between ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging in the evaluation of the ankle, hindfoot and heel of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Oana Șerban, Daniela Fodor, Iulia Papp, Mihaela Cosmina Micu, Dan Gabriel Duma, Csaba Csutak, Manuela Lenghel, Maria Bădărînză, Adriana Albu


Aim: To compare the ultrasonography (US) performance with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in identifying pathology in ankles, hindfeet and heels of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and to evaluate the reasons for discordances between the two imaging methods.

Material and methods: RA patients were enrolled and evaluated using the Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) and the Disease Activity Score 28 with C-reactive Protein (DAS28-CRP). The ankle (tibiotalar joint, tendons), hindfoot (talonavicular, subtalar joints) and heel of the most symptomatic or dominant foot (for the asymptomatic patient)
were evaluated by two pairs of examiners using US and contrast-enhanced MRI.

Results: Totally, 105 joints, 245 tendons and 35 heels in 35 patients [mean age 59.2±11.25 years old, median disease duration 36 (16.5-114), mean CDAI 19.87±12.7] were evaluated. The interobserver agreements between the two sonographers, and the two radiologists were good and very good (k=0.624-0.940). The overall agreement between US and MRI was very good for subcalcaneal panniculitis (k=0.928, p<0.001), moderate for synovitis (k=0.463, p<0.001) and tenosynovitis (k=0.514, p<0.001), fair for osteophytes (k=0.260, p=0.004), and poor for erosions (k=0.063, p=0.308) and heel’s structures. MRI found more erosions, synovitis, osteophytes,
tenosynovitis and retrocalcaneal bursitis, but US found more enthesophytes and plantar fasciitis. Many of the discordances
between the two imaging techniques have explanations related to the technique itself or definition of the pathologic findings.

Conclusions: US is comparable to MRI for the evaluation of ankle, hindfoot and heel in RA patients and discordances in the
interpretation of the pathological findings/normal structures must be carefully analyzed.


ankle; hindfoot; heel; rheumatoid arthritis; ultrasound; MRI

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