Ultrasonography is an imaging modality that has been utilised in clinical medicine since the 1950s. However, application to joints and rheumatic disease was delayed until appropriate advances in technology made it feasible. Since the 1990s, rheumatologists have embraced ultrasonography as a useful clinical tool and it has increasingly been applied in routine practice. Initial criticism correctly focused on a lack of validity data, recognition that this modality is highly user-dependent and that reliability was not established. In response, the rheumatological community identified relevant pathologies to study, starting with synovitis in rheumatoid arthritis, and set about defining the ultrasound abnormalities, followed by demonstrating the validity, reproducibility and responsiveness of these measures. Much work is now ongoing in the areas of enthesitis, gout and osteoarthritis. Additionally, the evidence base for ultrasonography in clinical practice is being investigated, in order to understand its appropriate place. Given the sensitivity of ultrasonography over clinical examination for detection of inflammation, this work will focus on its role in optimising diagnosis, directing therapy through accurate assessment of disease activity and understanding the optimal selection of joints for feasible disease monitoring. This review summarises the work undertaken to date, ongoing work and future challenges of optimising the role of ultrasonography in rheumatology.
|Journal||Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|