The Concordance of Patient-Reported Symptoms, Physical Examination and Ultrasound-Detected Synovitis, in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Shumaila Naz
Aflak Rasheed
Shafaq Ilyas
Maheen Jamal


Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by joint synovitis and systemic inflammation, with joint swelling and tenderness as common clinical manifestations. Accurate assessment of disease activity is crucial for effective management and treatment planning. While ultrasound (US) has emerged as a sensitive tool for detecting synovitis, its concordance with clinical examination findings remains a subject of ongoing research.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the concordance between clinical examination findings and ultrasound-detected synovitis in RA patients, with an emphasis on the diagnostic value of joint swelling and tenderness.

Methods: This observational, cross-sectional study involved 40 RA patients with moderate to severe disease activity, assessed at a single center. Following ethical approval and informed consent, patients were evaluated for joint swelling, tenderness, and patient-reported symptoms. Ultrasound examinations were conducted to detect synovitis, employing gray scale (GS) and power Doppler (PD) modalities. Concordance between clinical findings and US-detected synovitis was analyzed using Cohen's kappa statistic. Disease activity was categorized using the DAS28 score, with subgroup analyses across different disease activity states.

Results: Joint swelling demonstrated the highest concordance with US-detected synovitis (kappa = 0.44), while joint tenderness showed lower concordance (kappa = 0.23). Analysis across disease activity states revealed consistent concordance for joint swelling (kappa values ranging from 0.38 to 0.41), regardless of disease severity. Patient-reported symptoms and the use of specific treatments (methotrexate and biologics) were also analyzed, with 90% of patients on methotrexate and 10% on biologics. The study population was predominantly female (86%) and middle-aged (20 to 40 years: 66%).

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that joint swelling is a more reliable clinical indicator of synovitis in RA patients compared to joint tenderness. This suggests that disease activity scoring systems in RA might benefit from placing greater emphasis on swelling and patient-reported symptoms. Future research should explore the integration of these parameters to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of RA management.

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How to Cite
Naz, S., Rasheed , A., Ilyas , S., & Jamal, M. (2024). The Concordance of Patient-Reported Symptoms, Physical Examination and Ultrasound-Detected Synovitis, in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Health and Rehabilitation Research, 4(1), 596–601.
Author Biographies

Shumaila Naz, Sheikh Zayed Post Graduate Medical Institute Lahore Pakistan.

Department of Rheumatology.

Aflak Rasheed , Sheikh Zayed Post Graduate Medical Institute Lahore Pakistan.

Associate Professor, Department of Rheumatology.

Shafaq Ilyas , Sheikh Zayed Post Graduate Medical Institute Lahore Pakistan.

Department of Rheumatology.

Maheen Jamal, Sheikh Zayed Post Graduate Medical Institute Lahore Pakistan.

Department OF Rheumatology. 


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