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Bilateral MRIs more accurate for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis

Jun 5, 2018 | Failure to Diagnose

New York patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, may get a more accurate diagnosis if they undergo magnetic resonance imaging on both hands. A new study shows that bilateral MRIs are better at diagnosing the disease than unilateral MRIs. The study was published in the Journal of Rheumatology.

For the study, researchers recruited 120 patients with active RA. They then had each patient undergo a clinical exam, a radiograph and an MRI of both hands. The MRI images were analyzed and scored for osteitis, synovitis and bone erosion.

The researchers found that analysis of the MRI results of the dominant hand resulted in misdiagnosis of synovitis and osteitis in 5 percent of the patients’ wrists. The results also misidentified three MRI features in 5 percent to 14 percent of the patients’ metacarpophalangeal joints. Meanwhile, analysis of the MRI results of the more symptomatic hand resulted in 5 percent of the patients’ wrists being misdiagnosed with synovitis. Meanwhile, three MRI features were misdiagnosed in 7 percent to 15 percent of patients’ metacarpophalangeal joints. The authors of the study believe the findings indicate that unilateral MRIs do not always supply sufficient data for an accurate diagnosis. Therefore, bilateral MRIs are recommended.

Misread test results can cause patients to suffer a needlessly worsened condition. When this happens, patients may find it helpful to speak with an attorney about their legal options. An attorney could review medical files to determine if a doctor was negligent in his or her diagnosis and treatment of a patient. If negligence is found, legal counsel may recommend filing a medical malpractice claim for damages, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Source: Rheumatology Advisor, "Bilateral MRI More Accurately Characterizes RA vs Unilateral MRI," Hannah Dellabella, May 28, 2018