Special Theme Article: Clinical Imaging and the Rheumatic Diseases
Value of Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasonography for the Detection and Quantification of Enthesitis Vascularization in Patients With Spondyloarthritis
To evaluate if contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) can improve the detection and quantification of the vascularization of mild enthesitis in spondyloarthritis (SpA) and to evaluate the influence of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on such detection.
Fourteen patients with mildly active SpA were evaluated at 3 consecutive visits: at baseline while undergoing NSAID treatment (V1), after 1 week of stopping NSAIDs (V2), and after 1 week of resuming NSAIDs (V3). At each visit, enthesitis was evaluated clinically and by power Doppler US (PDUS). A selected enthesis with a doubtful PDUS vascularization signal was studied by CEUS in 2 steps: 1) using a dedicated technology that preserves microbubbles (Contrast Tuned Imaging technology [CEUS-CnTI]) and 2) using high PD (CEUS-PD) to destroy microbubbles. A linear mixed model statistical analysis, taking visits and contrast agent as fixed factors and the patient as a random factor, was used.
Disease activity and PDUS findings increased between V1 and V2 and then decreased between V2 and V3. As compared with PDUS alone, CEUS-PD and CEUS-CnTI each detected 1 supplementary vascularized enthesis at V1, CEUS-PD detected 1 vascularized enthesis and CEUS-CnTI detected 3 vascularized entheses at V2, and CEUS-PD and CEUS-CnTI each detected 2 vascularized entheses at V3. The mean inflammation score was increased by the use of CEUS (P = 0.04). This score increased between V1 and V2 (P = 0.03 by CEUS-PD and P = 0.01 by CEUS-CnTI) and decreased between V2 and V3.
CEUS improved the detection of enthesitis in SpA patients by confirming all doubtful enthesitis signals and confirming the absence of enthesis vascularization. The use of NSAIDs influenced the detection of vascularization.