Ultrasound changes care of some patients with rheumatic conditions

Ultrasound can be used to make an appropriate decision regarding care for patients with rheumatic conditions involving the hands and feet, according to a study performed at St. Joseph's Healthcare/McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.

The study included 62 patients. Results showed that, "approximately 50% of patients had a change in management following ultrasound evaluation," said Srinivasan Harish, lead author of the study. "Certainty in clinical findings significantly increased following ultrasound, ranging from 24% to 56% for various findings," he said.

"Sonography appears to play a key role in helping rheumatologists determine whether or not disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) would be useful in patients who are difficult to assess clinically. Results from our study showed that there was a significant decrease in the use of these drugs when these patients had an ultrasound examination.

"Rheumatologists typically request plain radiographs as their primary imaging modality for rheumatologic diseases. However our study shows that ultrasound may play a more influential role," said Dr. Harish.

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