, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 606-616

Use of contrast-enhanced MR imaging to detect sacroiliitis in children

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Purpose. To verify the diagnostic value of contrast-enhanced MR imaging compared with conventional radiography in the diagnosis of sacroiliitis in children. Design and patients. Radiography and MR imaging of the sacroiliac joints were performed in 185 children subdivided into the following groups according to the modified European Spondyloarthropathy (SpA) Study Group (ESSG) criteria: group 1, undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy (uSpA) (n=53, 94.5% HLA-B27+); group 2, differentiated SpA (n=45, 93.3% HLA-B27+); group 3, patients with no signs of SpA other than oligoarthritis (n=39, 92.3% HLA-B27+); group 4, HLA-B27+ controls with various other non-SpA diagnoses (n=22); and group 5, HLA-B27– controls with various other non-SpA diagnoses (n=26). Radiographs were evaluated on the basis of the modified New York criteria independently by three experienced radiologists masked to the clinical data. In a second step, the same radiologists independently evaluated the MR images without knowledge of the clinical data and radiographic findings using the recently published criteria developed by our group. These criteria allow differentiation of acute and chronic inflammatory changes. Results. Radiography demonstrated sacroiliitis in 18 patients: 4 of 53 in group 1 (7.5%), 14 of 45 in group 2 (31%), but none in groups 3, 4 and 5. In contrast, MR imaging demonstrated acute and/or chronic sacroiliitis in 44 patients: 18 of 53 in group 1 (34%), 21 of 45 in group 2 (46.7%) and 5 of 39 in group 3 (12.8%), but none in groups 4 and 5. The percentage of sacroiliitis detected by MR imaging was significantly higher than that detected by radiography (P<0.001). Conclusion. Contrast-enhanced MR imaging is a useful method for detecting sacroiliitis in children. Advantages of contrast-enhanced MR imaging compared with conventional radiography are a higher sensitivity due to the ability to document early and acute changes and the absence of radiation exposure.