The importance of ultrasound in identifying and differentiating patients with early inflammatory arthritis: A narrative review

Gurjit S. Kaeley, Catherine Bakewell, Atul Deodhar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Early differentiation between different types of inflammatory arthritis and subsequent initiation of modern treatments can improve patient outcomes by reducing disease activity and preventing joint damage. Routine clinical evaluation, laboratory testing, and radiographs are typically sufficient for differentiating between inflammatory and predominantly degenerative arthritis (e.g., osteoarthritis). However, in some patients with inflammatory arthritis, these techniques fail to accurately identify the type of early-stage disease. Further evaluation by ultrasound imaging can delineate the inflammatory arthritis phenotype present. Ultrasound is a noninvasive, cost-effective method that enables the evaluation of several joints at the same time, including functional assessments. Further, ultrasound can visualize pathophysiological changes such as synovitis, tenosynovitis, enthesitis, bone erosions, and crystal deposits at a subclinical level, which makes it an effective technique to identify and differentiate most common types of inflammatory arthritis. Limitations associated with ultrasound imaging should be considered for its use in the differentiation and diagnosis of inflammatory arthritides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2020



  • Bone erosions
  • Enthesitis
  • Imaging
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Synovitis
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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