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AIMS: To systematically review observational studies for the association between features detected on ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and, symptoms, signs and radiographic progression of hand osteoarthritis (OA). METHODS: Medline, Web of Science, EMBASE, CINAHL and AMED were searched from inception to 14th January 2020 to identify relevant studies. Quality of studies was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa scales and data were extracted. Odds ratios (OR) and linear regression coefficients and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were pooled using the random-effects model (METAN package, Stata v16.1). Heterogeneity and publication bias were assessed. RESULTS: Thirty-two studies using US and MRI comprising 1,350 and 638 participants respectively were included. While only grey-scale synovitis (GSS) associated with AUSCAN-pain (pooled Regression coefficient (95% CI): 0.46 (0.13-0.79); 0-20 scale for AUSCAN-pain), US-detected osteophytes, GSS and power Doppler (PD) [pooled ORs (95% CI): 2.68(2.16-3.33), 2.38(1.74-3.26) and 2.04 (1.45-2.88)] as well as MRI-detected bone marrow lesions (BMLs), synovitis, osteophytes, and central bone erosions (CBEs) associated with joint tenderness [pooled ORs (95% CI): 2.59(2.12-3.18), 2.17(1.85-2.54), 2.15(1.55-2.99), and 2.41 (1.45-4.02)] respectively. US-detected GSS and PD associated with radiographic progression of CBEs [pooled ORs 5.37, 5.08], osteophytes [pooled ORs 5.17, 6.45], and joint space narrowing (pooled ORs 4.28, 4.36) whilst MRI-detected synovitis and BMLs associated with increasing KL grades with pooled ORs 2.92, 2.54 respectively. CONCLUSIONS: US and MRI-detected structural and inflammatory changes associate with tenderness, whilst articular inflammation and subchondral bone damage associate with radiographic hand OA progression. There was inconsistent relationship between these changes and pain.

Original publication




Journal article


Osteoarthritis Cartilage

Publication Date





946 - 955


Hand OA, MRI, Pain, Radiographic change, Ultrasound, Bone Marrow, Disease Progression, Hand Joints, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Observational Studies as Topic, Osteoarthritis, Osteophyte, Synovitis, Ultrasonography