Multiparametric Large Field of View Rheumatology Imaging for Axial Spondyloarthropathy Detects Enthesitis in Setting of Inactive Sacroiliac Joint Disease and Impacts Clinical Diagnosis

Girish Boraiah, Theodoros Soldatos, Uma J. Thakur, Avneesh Chhabra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim To test the diagnostic efficacy of a multiparametric rheumatology lumbosacral magnetic resonance (MR) imaging protocol in detection and characterization of axial spondylarthritis (SpA) and compare it with serology and clinical findings. Methods A consecutive series of multiparametric rheumatology lumbosacral MR imaging examinations performed on 3T MR scanner. Three-dimensional inversion recovery turbo spin echo, precontrast and postcontrast fat-suppressed T1-weighted images, as well as diffusion-weighted images were used to detect active erosions and enthesitis using established criteria. Pearson χ2 was used for categorical variables. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy were measured for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and serology, based on the final diagnosis from rheumatologists. An alpha error below 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results The final study sample included 130 consecutive patients (80 women and 50 men; mean ± SD 44 ± 13 and 45 ± 14 years, respectively). Seventy-eight subjects were diagnosed with axial SpA and 52 with non-SpA arthropathy. In the non-SpA group, 27 patients were diagnosed with osteoarthritis, 6 had unremarkable imaging, whereas 19 were considered as clinically undetermined. There was positive correlation between positive MRI results and SpA diagnosis (P < 0.00001). No correlation existed between positive serology alone and SpA diagnosis (P = 0.0634). Although MRI and serology proved equally sensitive in detecting SpA, the specificity and overall accuracy of MRI were significantly higher. Inflammatory activity was detected in 45 (57.7%) cases, in the pelvic enthesis in 29 (37.2%) cases, in the lumbosacral spine in 16 (20.5%) cases, in the hip joints in 15 (19.2%) cases, and in the pubic symphysis in 5 (6.4%). Inactive sacral disease was seen in 7 of 35 enthesitis patients (20.0%), and in 2 SpA cases, there were no sacral lesions. Conclusions The results suggest that in patients with suspected SpA, MRI should not be limited to the sacroiliac joints, but also include enthesitis sites and other joints of the axial skeleton. The multiparametric rheumatology protocol increases the efficacy of MRI in detecting enthesitis and joint inflammatory disease, thereby offering additional information to the clinician and assisting in the early diagnosis/detecting disease activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-196
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of computer assisted tomography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • axial spondyloarthritis
  • DWI
  • enthesitis
  • MRI
  • sacroiliitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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