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Radiography remains key for rheumatic disease

Monday 18th May 2015
Although there are now a number of options, radiography remains the first choice for assessing rheumatic disease. Image Credit: avajjon
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According to a leading expert, radiography is still one of the most useful tools for diagnosing and managing a range of diseases.

Speaking at the American College of Rheumatology State-of-the-Art Clinical Symposium, Dr Imran Omar, associate professor of radiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said radiography is still the first choice for assessing rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

In addition, the technique is also key for tracking disease activity and progression as it can 
successfully reveal disease and is usually inexpensive. This makes the technique a good choice for patients and doctors, especially as it can also be performed quickly.

This makes it accessible to most patients as it means they don't have to stay still during the scan period.

Published in Healio, the report also states that radiography is great for easily spotting areas of erosion in joints and crystal deposits in gout.

“In today’s medicine, we are becoming more and more aware of the potential effects of ionizing radiation,” he said. “We are especially aware of the cumulative dose of ionizing radiation in our patients.”

Using CT scans can also pose similar challenges with radiation exposure but has the added benefit of being able to reveal more information about soft tissue. In addition, it can show areas that may be hidden in radiographs, which makes it a common second choice for evaluating patients.

With there being a variety of options on offer, it can help to have a skilled radiographer on hand to decide which scanning method is best for the patient at hand. There are many studies currently evaluating when certain scanning techniques should be used, and under what circumstances.

“Many of these studies are going to take a long time, and many of our patients - especially those with rheumatoid arthritis who may have pain and deformity - may not be able to tolerate the length of these studies,” Dr Omar said.

Written by Martin Lambert

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