Finding Arthritis with Sound

Sonography helps identify juvenile inflammatory arthritis in children

May 6, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) In most cases, patients do better if doctors can find and diagnose their disease early. This is true for kids who are affected by a type of childhood arthritis. Now, researchers have found a way that helps spot childhood arthritis early.

Sonography - the use of sound waves to make an image - can help doctors identify juvenile inflammatory arthritis in children. Using sonography, doctors can detect the disease before it can be found in a physical exam.

"Sonography helps doctors find arthritis in children."

Juvenile inflammatory arthritis is a type of rheumatoid arthritis. Finding the disease earlier means that doctors can treat the disease sooner, which makes it easier for patients to manage the pain.

Researchers found that adding sonography to a physical exam can help detect subclinical disease, or disease without symptoms.

According to lead author Vikash Panghaal, M.D., this study showed that subclinical disease turns into clinically visible disease in many patients. Sonography may help detect juvenile inflammatory arthritis in children before the symptoms of the disease become full-blown.

The Study

  • Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Montefiore Medical Center compared physical examination to sonography with Doppler in assessing disease activity in the knees and ankles of children with juvenile inflammatory arthritis
  • Researchers looked at 84 joints in 19 different patients
  • Both sonography and physical examination found the same level of disease activity in 65 joints
  • In 14 joints, sonography found disease activity while physical examination did not
  • Five of those 14 joints were found to have subclinical disease by the first physical examination
  • With sonography, eight of those 14 joints had an increased blood flow as the only sign of disease activity, but this was a false positive
  • Four of the five joints that were active on physical examination and not active on sonography had subtalar disease, or disease in the ankle