Semiquantitative Ultrasound Scoring System Shows Validity in RA

Female doctor and technician examining ultrasound x-rays in dark room
Researchers found data that showed using the semiquantitative ultrasound score in the assessment of finger joint cartilage damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis is effective.

A novel semiquantitative ultrasound scoring system showed validity in the assessment of finger joint cartilage damage in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to study results published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 103 patients with RA and 42 healthy controls. Study inclusion criteria required that participants have low disease activity or have RA that was in remission. Subsequently, the team investigated the validity of ultrasound cartilage assessment, using a semiquantitative technique that measured the thickness of both proximal interphalangeal and bilateral metacarpophalangeal joints of the 2nd to 5th digits. In addition, joint space narrowing of applicable joints was assessed with radiologic imaging. Statistical analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between scores and cartilage damage.

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After analysis, the researchers found a significant negative correlation between semiquantitative ultrasound score and cartilage thickness (rho, -0.64; P <.001). Similarly, the team found a significant positive correlation with joint space narrowing score (rho, 0.66; P <.001).

One key limitation of the study was the cross-sectional design.

“This is the first study demonstrating that a simplified and direct evaluation of finger joint cartilage damage by semi-quantitative [ultrasound] score is valid and useful for patients with RA,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Ogura T, Hirata A, Hayashi N, et al. Finger joint cartilage evaluated by semi-quantitative ultrasound score in patients with rheumatoid arthritis [published online October 25, 2019]. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). doi:10.1002/acr.24101