PURPOSE: The study was performed to determine whether conventional and dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) parameters of a previously affected target joint in patients with clinically inactive juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have prognostic meaning for a flare of joint inflammation during follow-up.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Thirty-two JIA patients with clinically inactive disease at the time of MRI of the knee were prospectively included. DCE-MRI provided both descriptive measures and time-intensity-curve shapes, representing functional properties of the synovium. Conventional MRI outcome measures included validated scores for synovial hypertrophy, bone marrow edema, cartilage lesions and bone erosions. During a 2-year period the patients were monitored by their pediatric rheumatologist and clinical flares were registered.
RESULTS: MRI analysis revealed synovial hypertrophy in 13 (39.4%) of the clinically inactive patients. Twelve patients (37.5%) had at least one flare during 2-year clinical follow-up. Persistently inactive and flaring patients differed significantly in the maximum enhancement of the synovium on the DCE-MRI (p<0.05), whereas no difference was found between these two groups in any of the baseline scores of conventional MRI.
CONCLUSIONS: Our prospective clinical follow-up study indicates that the assessment of 'maximum enhancement' upon DCE-MRI may be able to predict a clinical flare within 2 years in inactive JIA patients.