Their findings, “Quantitative imaging of bone–cartilage interactions in ACL-injured patients with PET–MRI,” appear in an April edition of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.
Researchers say that a PET-MRI provides excellent, high-resolution morphologic information in patients with OA.
PET-MRI scans may also serve as a way to monitor quantitative metrics relating to early biochemical changes in soft tissues affected in arthritis patients.
The lead researcher of the Stanford study said in a statement, “Given the importance of detecting early stage OA disease in all joint tissues, there is great interest in evaluating bone remodeling as a marker of early bone degeneration and its potential as a target for disease modifying therapies. As a result, there is an urgent need to develop diagnostic technologies able to quantitatively evaluate early changes in bone remodeling and its role in degenerative changes observed in adjacent tissues.”
So, they studied early metabolic and cellular changes in both bone and cartilage by simultaneously using positron emission tomography (PET) in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI imaging.
The combination seems to have worked well for looking at OA.
While osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are different diseases, sometimes patients have both.
And sometimes, the types of imaging used to monitor or diagnose these diseases may overlap, whether it’s X-ray, CT scan, MRI, bone scans, ultrasound, or, now, PET scans.
So far, the Arthritis Foundation has not added PET scans to its list of imaging scans used to diagnose various forms of arthritis.
Dr. Philip Conaghan, a rheumatologist, told the Arthritis Foundation, “Both MRI and ultrasound are more sensitive at detecting bone erosion than X-ray. In addition, they also reveal inflammation, which we could not see directly before and had to rely on blood tests and using our fingers to feel the joints.”
But while PET scans aren’t commonly used for RA or OA just yet, the new research out of South Korea and Stanford University may hold promise for patients and rheumatologists alike.