, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 279-288

Computerized Digital Imaging Techniques Provided by Digital X-ray Radiogrammetry as New Diagnostic Tool in Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Purpose

Our study evaluates digital x-ray radiogrammetry (DXR) and Radiogrammetry Kit (RK) as a new diagnostic method for the measurement of disease-related osteoporosis including quantification of joint space narrowing dependent on the severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Materials and Methods

A total of 172 unselected patients with RA underwent computerized measurements of bone mineral density (BMD) and metacarpal index (MCI) by DXR, as well as a semiautomated measurement of joint space distances at the metacarpal–phalangeal articulation (JSD-MCP 2–5), both were analyzed from plain radiographs of the nondominant hand.

Results

Correlations between DXR-BMD and DXR-MCI vs. parameters of RK were all significant (0.34 < R < 0.61; p < 0.01). An expected negative association was observed between RK parameters and the different scoring methods (−0.27 < R < −0.59). The maximum relative decrease in BMD vs. MCI as measured by DXR between the highest and lowest RA severity group was −27.7% vs. −27.5% (p < 0.01) for the modified Larsen Score, whereas the minimal value of relative DXR-BMD and DXR-MCI reduction could be documented for the Sharp Erosion Score (−20.8% vs. −26.8%; p < 0.01). The relative reduction of mean JSD-MCP using RK significantly varied from −25.0% (Sharp Erosion Score) to −41.2% (modified Larsen Score). In addition, an excellent reproducibility of DXR and RK could be verified.

Conclusion

DXR in combination with RK could be a promising, widely available diagnostic tool to supplement the different scoring methods of RA with quantitative data, allowing an earlier and improved diagnosis and more precision in determining disease progression.