, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 304-307

Can we see enough? A comparative study of film-screen vs digital radiographs in small lesions in rheumatoid arthritis

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of digital radiography in the detection of early very small erosions and joint space narrowing in the hands and feet in rheumatoid arthritis. Fifty-three sets of film-screen and digital radiographs of the same hands and feet with very small and sometimes questionable lesions (possible erosions and cysts) were scored independently two times by four investigators. The percentage of lesions found in exactly the same position for each investigator was calculated. Intra-observer agreement between first and second reading in film-screen radiography was 64–76 % (mean 67 %), and in digital radiographs 60–71 % (mean 64 %). Agreement between film-screen and digital radiographs ranged from 54 to 64 % (mean 58 %) in the first reading and from 56 to 66 % (mean 62 %) in the second reading. Overall agreement between both techniques between first and second reading ranged between 62 and 73 % (mean 65 %). Digital radiography of the hands and feet can be used in patients suspected of rheumatoid arthritis and in follow-up of those patients, because small and early erosions can be seen equally well with the digital technique as compared with the conventional film-screen technique.

Received: 21 October 1998; Revised: 16 February 1999; Accepted: 23 April 1999