Early Rheumatoid Arthritis’ Predictors Pinpointed

Data presented at the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) noted a scanning protocol may help in honing in on RA.

Ultrasound diagnosis of tenosynovitis may be superior to clinical symptoms and signs, such as early morning stiffness, symmetrical arthritis, and hand joint arthritis, in predicting early rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study presented at The European League Against Rheumatism 2015 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology.

In their study, Andrew Filer, MD, of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues noted that a need for treatment before any predictors occur could potentially improve clinical outcomes.  

The researchers scanned 14 tendons (including wrist, hand, shoulder, and ankle regions) in 107 patients with clinically-apparent synovitis involving at least one joint and symptom duration of less than three months.

“When we analyzed which tendons were inflamed at baseline compared to final diagnostic outcome, extensor carpi ulnaris tendons and the finger flexor tendons emerged as specific for RA compared to other diagnoses,” Filer said in a press release about the study. “This minimal scanning protocol only takes four to five minutes and can be translated rapidly into a clinic setting. Like all tests, it does need to be fully validated in a broader range of early arthritis clinics, but even the data presented at EULAR will increase rheumatologists’ confidence in treating very early RA”

He noted that the main barrier to incorporating in clinics is the provision of enough accessible ultrasound machines, and targeted training of rheumatologists and sonographers. 


  1. Filer, A. Abstract OP0015. Presented at EULAR 2015. June 10-13, 2015. Rome, Italy.