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Low-field magnetic resonance imaging or combined ultrasonography and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody improve correct classification of individuals as established rheumatoid arthritis: results of a population-based, cross-sectional study

Jens K Pedersen12*, Tove Lorenzen1, Bo Ejbjerg3, Marcin Szkudlarek4, Anne Voss2, Mikkel Østergaard56, Anders J Svendsen7, Lis S Andersen1 and Kim Hørslev-Petersen18

Author Affiliations

1 King Christian 10th Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, South Jutland Hospital, Toldbodgade 3, 6300 Graasten, Denmark

2 Department of Rheumatology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

3 Department of Rheumatology, Regional Hospital Slagelse, Slagelse, Denmark

4 Department of Rheumatology, University of Copenhagen Hospital at Køge, Køge, Denmark

5 Copenhagen Center for Arthritis Research, Center for Rheumatology and Spinal Diseases, Glostrup Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark

6 Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

7 Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

8 Institute of Regional Health Services Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:268  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-268

Published: 7 August 2014



The aim of the present study was to evaluate the accuracy of two approaches using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or combined ultrasonography (US) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA) for diagnosis and classification of individuals with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


In 53 individuals from a population-based, cross-sectional study, historic fulfilment of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 1987 criteria (“classification”) or RA diagnosed by a rheumatologist (“diagnosis”) were used as standard references. The sensitivity, specificity and Area under Curve for Receiver Operating Characteristics curves (ROC-area: (sensitivity + specificity)/2) were calculated for “current fulfilment of the ACR 1987 criteria” (list format), “adapted ACR 1987 criteria” (list format, substituting IgM rheumatoid factor with ACPA and clinical joint swelling and erosions on radiography with synovitis and erosions detected by US on a semi-quantitative scale), and RA MRI scoring System (RAMRIS) scores on low-field MRI in the unilateral hand.


For the ACR 1987 criteria the ROC-area was 75% (sensitivity/specificity = 50%/100%) (with “classification” as standard reference) and 69% (44%/94%) (with “diagnosis” as standard reference), while for the adapted ACR 1987 criteria it was 86% (75%/97%) (classification) and 82% (72%/91%) (diagnosis). For RAMRIS synovitis score in metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints only (cut-off ≥5), the ROC-area (sensitivity/specificity) was 78% (62%/94%) (classification) and 85% (69%/100%) (diagnosis), while for the total synovitis score of MCP joints plus wrist (cut-off ≥10) it was 78% (62%/94%) (both classification and diagnosis).


Compared with the ACR 1987 criteria, low-field MRI alone or adapted criteria incorporating US and ACPA increased the correct classification and diagnosis of RA.

Sensitivity and specificity; Ultrasonography; Magnetic resonance imaging; Rheumatoid arthritis; Epidemiology