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BMJ Publishing Group, RMD Open, 2(8), p. e002250, 2022

DOI: 10.1136/rmdopen-2022-002250



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Role of vertebral corner inflammation and fat deposition on MRI on syndesmophyte development detected on whole spine low-dose CT scan in radiographic axial spondyloarthritis

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


ObjectivesTo investigate the associations between MRI detected vertebral corner inflammation (VCI) and vertebral corner fat deposition (VCFD) on whole spine low-dose CT scan (ldCT) detected syndesmophyte formation and growth.MethodsPatients from the Sensitive Imaging in Ankylosing Spondylitis cohort underwent MRI (baseline, 1 year and 2 years) and ldCT (baseline and 2 years). MR images were scored by three readers for VCI and VCFD, MRI patterns were defined by presence of VCI and/or VCFD over 2 years. LdCT images were scored by two central readers for presence and size of syndesmophytes and change was calculated for new or new/grown syndesmophytes. Multilevel generalised estimated equations were used to test the associations between VCI and VCFD and syndesmophyte development.ResultsFifty radiographic patients with axial spondyloarthritis were included (mean age 49 years, 86% male, 78% HLA-B27+). Absence of both VCI and VCFD protected against syndesmophyte development (ORs 0.36–0.37). Presence of VCI and/or VCFD increased the risk of syndesmophyte development (ORs 1.73–2.60). Out of all corners with a new or new/grown syndesmophyte, 47% of corners according to reader 1 and 44% according to reader 2 had neither VCI nor VCFD preceding the bone formation.ConclusionsVCI and VCFD were positively associated with syndesmophyte development. This has been shown for the first time for syndesmophytes detected on ldCT and also in the thoracic spine. However, almost half of all bone formation occurred in corners without VCI or VCFD, suggesting the presence of these lesions in yearly MRIs does not fully clarify the development of syndesmophytes.