Comparison between 1.5T and 3.0T MRI: both field strengths sensitively detect subclinical inflammation of hand and forefoot in patients with arthralgia

D. I. Krijbolder*, M. Verstappen, F. Wouters, L. R. Lard, P. D. M. de Buck, J. J. Veris-van Dieren, J. L. Bloem, M. Reijnierse, A. H. M. van der Helm-van Mil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of small joints sensitively detects inflammation. This inflammation, and tenosynovitis in particular, has been shown to predict rheumatoid arthritis (RA) development in arthralgia patients. These data have predominantly been acquired on 1.0–1.5 T MRI. However, 3.0 T is now commonly used in practice. Evidence on the comparability of these field strengths is scarce and has never included subtle inflammation in arthralgia patients or tenosynovitis. Therefore, we assessed the comparability of 1.5 T and 3.0 T in detecting subclinical inflammation in arthralgia patients. Method: A total of 2968 locations (joints, bones, tendon sheaths) in the hands and forefeet of 28 patients with small-joint arthralgia, at risk for RA, were imaged on both 1.5 and 3.0 T MRI. Two blinded readers independently scored erosions, osteitis, synovitis, and tenosynovitis, in line with the Rheumatoid Arthritis Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score (RAMRIS). Features were summed into inflammation (osteitis, synovitis, tenosynovitis) and RAMRIS (inflammation and erosions). Agreement was assessed with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) for continuous scores and after dichotomization into presence or absence of inflammation, on patient and location levels. Results: Interreader ICCs were excellent (> 0.90). Comparing 1.5 and 3.0 T revealed an ICC of 0.90 for inflammation and RAMRIS. ICCs for individual inflammation features were: tenosynovitis 0.87 (95% confidence interval 0.74–0.94), synovitis 0.65 (0.24–0.84), and osteitis 0.96 (0.91–0.98). Agreement was 83% for inflammation and 89% for RAMRIS. Analyses on the location level showed similar results. Conclusion: Agreement on subclinical inflammation between 1.5 T and 3.0 T was excellent. Although synovitis scores were slightly different, synovitis often occurs simultaneously with other inflammatory signs, suggesting that scientific results on the predictive value of MRI-detected inflammation for RA, obtained on 1.5 T MRI, can be generalized to 3.0 T MRI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-290
JournalScandinavian Journal of Rheumatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

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