Author | Jane Freeston, MB BChir


Spotting the early warning signs of aggressive RA

February 24, 2008

Recent advances in drug therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have increased the importance of early intervention. Several serological testing and imaging techniques help facilitate early diagnosis. C-reactive protein level and erythrocyte sedimentation rate have limitations in predicting RA. Rheumatoid factor acts as a prognostic marker for later joint damage in patients with early RA. Antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptide can predict more erosive disease. Radiography currently is the marker for structural damage in RA, but it cannot detect soft tissue changes or actual cartilage deterioration. MRI is the most sensitive imaging modality. Ultrasonography has been shown to be more sensitive than conventional radiography in detecting erosions. (J Musculoskel Med. 2008;25:110-115)