Category Archives: Diagnosis

Biomarker Tests Rheumatoid Arthritis

Biomarker Tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis Improve Care

Early detection and aggressive treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are vital to prevent joint damage. To spot RA and measure its progression, rheumatologists test the blood for certain biomarkers that are characteristic of RA. Although several biomarker tests – the erythrocyte sedimentation (sed) rate, the C-reactive protein (CRP), and rheumatoid factor (RF) – indicate inflammation, they are fairly non-specific to RA. So, the development of more specific biomarker tests is important. These tests allow earlier detection of RA and also pave the way for more customized care.

Below are descriptions of more specific biomarker tests that are being used to diagnose and monitor RA disease activity.

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Detecting rheumatoid arthritis

The Use of Imaging Scans in the Detection and Monitoring of RA

For decades, X-ray images have been used to help detect rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to monitor for the progression of bone damage. In early RA, however, X-rays may appear normal although the disease is active – making the films useful as a baseline but not much help in getting a timely diagnosis and treatment.

Enter modern imaging techniques, including ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can reveal early, non-bony signs of RA that are invisible on X-ray.

“Both MRI and ultrasound are more sensitive at detecting bone erosion than X-ray. In addition, they also reveal inflammation, which we could not see directly before and had to rely on blood tests and using our fingers to feel the joints,” says rheumatologist Philip Conaghan, MD, PhD, professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds and president of the International Society for Musculoskeletal Imaging in Rheumatology.

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