DATA SOURCE: A search of the current medical literature from 1990 to present through PubMed was performed without constraints. Search terms used included: MRI, rheumatoid arthritis, wrist, treatment, diagnosis, radiology, clinical manifestations, and incidence.
STUDY SELECTION: The articles included in this review were selected by historical significance, date of publication, pertinent review information, and, most specifically, those articles studying the current uses for imaging the rheumatoid wrist.
DATA SYNTHESIS: This review demonstrated an overall agreement between numerous studies that the usefulness of MRI evaluation of the rheumatoid wrist is in its early stages of development. Many of the features of this examination of the wrist are discussed and contrasted with plain film radiographic examination.
RESULTS: The role of the clinician in the diagnosis and treatment, including complementary care, as well as the follow-up of rheumatoid arthritis in the wrist is unquestionable. The role of plain film examination as a diagnostic tool is excellent. The current and future role of MRI of rheumatoid arthritis is becoming obvious and will likely become the diagnostic imaging tool of choice in the near future.
CONCLUSION: MRI provides more specific information on rheumatoid lesions in the wrist than plain film imaging. This is especially true when intravenous contrast is utilized. The clinician's use of physical examination, laboratory examination, radiography, and MRI will provide for early diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of RA in the wrist.
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