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What magnetic resonance imaging has told us about the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis – the first 50 years

Dennis McGonagle* and Ai Lyn Tan

Author Affiliations

Academic Unit of Musculoskeletal Disease, University of Leeds and Chapel Allerton Hospital, Chapeltown Road, Leeds, LS7 4SA, UK

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2008, 10:222  doi:10.1186/ar2512

Published: 10 October 2008


Modern imaging modalities, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are valuable diagnostic and therapy monitoring tools in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This article reviewed how these imaging modalities have greatly improved our understanding of pathogenic mechanisms in RA, namely the link between inflammation and damage. For example, traditional paradigms regarding the mechanisms of joint destruction, including the idea that synovitis and damage are uncoupled, have been challenged. As the power of MRI increases, there is a need to define normality since apparently normal joints occasionally exhibit MRI evidence of synovitis in the absence of symptoms.