Synovial inflammation drives structural damage in hand osteoarthritis: A narrative literature review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Ultrasound is one of the most promising candidates for the detection of inflammation and structural damage in hand osteoarthritis. Objective: To evaluate new advances of US as a diagnostic and prognostic tool in hand osteoarthritis assessment. Methods: We conducted a Medline on PubMed search for articles about “ultrasonography” and “hand OA” published between January 2012 and 15th April 2016, limiting our search to articles on human adults in English, excluding those involving systemic inflammatory diseases, visualization of joints other than hands, ultrasound guided injections and surgical procedures. Reviews, case reports, letters, position statements and ex vivo studies were excluded. Concordance between ultrasound and conventional radiography and magnetic resonance imaging was evaluated. Results: Total 46 records were identified, and 16 articles were selected: four showed only ultrasound structural damage (osteophytes, cartilage pathology), six only ultrasound inflammatory variables (synovial thickness, effusion and power Doppler signal), six should considered both ultrasound struc-tural and inflammatory features as well as erosions and two were epidemiological studies. Ultra-sound synovitis and power Doppler signal were more frequent in erosive hand osteoarthritis. Follow-up studies found that ultrasound inflammatory features at baseline are independently associated with radiographic progression; power Doppler signal was the strongest predictor of structural damage. Ultrasound is a reliable tool for cartilage and osteophyte assessment (when performed with static images) and shows a good concordance with magnetic resonance imaging for osteophytes, erosions and synovitis. Conclusions: Ultrasound detected inflammation may predict radiographic progression and may be used in prospective clinical trials of hand osteoarthritis and in everyday clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Rheumatology Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Erosions
  • Hand osteoarthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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