Impact of replacing radiographic sacroiliitis by magnetic resonance imaging structural lesions on the classification of patients with axial spondyloarthritis
Rheumatology (United Kingdom) , Volume 57 - Issue 7 p. 1186- 1193
Objectives. To investigate in patients with chronic back pain of a short duration, the utility of adding structural MRI lesions of the SI joints to the imaging criterion of the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society (ASAS) axial SpA (axSpA) criteria and the utility of replacement of radiographic sacroiliitis by structural MRI lesions. Methods. MRI STIR (inflammation, MRI-SI), MRI T1-weighted images (structural lesions, MRI-SI-s) and radiographs of the SI joints of patients in the SPondyloArthritis Caught Early-cohort (chronic back pain:≤ months, ≤ years; onset <45 years) were scored by two well-calibrated readers. Previously proposed cut-offs for a positive MRI-SI-s were used (based on <5% prevalence in no-SpA patients): erosions ≥3, fatty lesions ≥3, fatty lesions and/or erosions (erosions/fatty lesions)≥5. Using the definitions of MRI-SIs, patients were classified according to the ASAS axSpA criteria. Results. Twenty-nine of 294 patients were modified New York (mNY) positive and 32 were MRI-SI-s positive (erosions/fatty lesions ≥5). Agreement between mNY and MRI-SI-s (erosions/fatty lesions ≥5) was moderate (k: 0.58). Using the erosions/fatty lesions ≥5 cut-off, 3/294 additional patients were classified as axSpA (adding MRI). Using this cut-off instead of mNY (replacing mNY), classification did not change in 286 patients (97.3%), but 5 patients (1.7%) would not be classified as axSpA and 3 previously unclassified patients (1.0%) would be classified as axSpA. Similar results were seen for the other cut-offs (erosions ≥3 and fatty lesions ≥3). Conclusion. Assessment of structural lesions (fatty lesions and erosions) on MRI-SI instead of or in addition to conventional radiographs does not lead to a different ASAS axSpA classification in most of the patients with early disease onset. This suggests that structural lesions (fatty lesions and erosions) can be reliably used in the ASAS axSpA classification of patients, as both addition and replacement of radiographs of the SI joints.