Ultrasound imaging for the rheumatologist XLVIII. Ultrasound of the shoulders of patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Garifallia Sakellariou, Annamaria Iagnocco, Emilio Filippucci, Fulvia Ceccarelli, Luca Di Geso, Linda Carli, Lucrezia Riente, Andrea Delle Sedie, Carlomaurizios Montecucco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate the prevalence of ultrasonographic (US) shoulder abnormalities in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to investigate the relationship between US findings and demographic and clinical features. Methods: Consecutive patients attending the rheumatology units involved in this study were enrolled. Clinical and demographical data were recorded. US of bilateral shoulders was performed at the same time, examining tendons, bursae, gleno-humeral and acromion-clavicular joints. The presence of signs of inflammation, bone erosions or rotator cuff pathology was evaluated. Results: A total of one hundred patients were enrolled, mean age (SD) 59.6 (14.7) years, median disease duration (IQR) 56.5 (34.7, 96.5) months, 98% of them were on DMARDs and 22% on biologics. Shoulder tenderness was reported by 44% of patients. 34% of patients showed at least one sign of inflammatory involvement, and 25% of them presented with humeral head erosions. Signs of rotator cuff pathology were seen in 49% of patients. Agreement between the presence of spontaneous pain and US inflammatory abnormalities was moderate (kappa 0.501). Patients with inflammatory involvement of the shoulders had significantly higher DAS28, HAQ, VAS pain, acute phase reactants and disease duration compared to patient with no inflammatory signs, they were more frequently RF positive and reported more frequently spontaneous pain. Conclusion: US assessment of the shoulder in RA patients can be considered of value, especially in patients with relevant indicators of disease activity and severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-842
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Shoulder joint
  • Ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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