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What is MRI bone oedema in rheumatoid arthritis and why does it matter?

Fiona M McQueen1* and Benedikt Ostendorf2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Park Rd, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Center for Rheumatology, Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Rheumatology, Heinrich-Heine University Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf, Germany

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:222  doi:10.1186/ar2075

Published: 5 December 2006


MRI bone oedema occurs in various forms of inflammatory and non-inflammatory arthritis and probably represents a cellular infiltrate within bone. It is common in early rheumatoid arthritis and is associated with erosive progression and poor functional outcome. Histopathological studies suggest that a cellular infiltrate comprising lymphocytes and osteoclasts may be detected in subchondral bone and could mediate the development of erosions from the marrow towards the joint surface. There is emerging evidence from animal models that such an infiltrate corresponds with MRI bone oedema, pointing towards the bone marrow as a site for important pathology driving joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis.