Objective: To evaluate the performance of dynamic contrast-enhanced CT (DCE-CT) in detecting and quantitatively assessing perfusion parameters in patients with arthritis of the hand compared with dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) as a standard of reference.
Materials and methods: In this IRB-approved randomized prospective single-centre study, 36 consecutive patients with suspected rheumatoid arthritis underwent DCE-CT (320-row, tube voltage 80 kVp, tube current 8.25 mAs) and DCE-MRI (1.5 T) of the hand. Perfusion maps were calculated separately for mean transit time (MTT), time to peak (TTP), relative blood volume (rBV), and relative blood flow (rBF) using four different decomposition techniques. Region of interest (ROI) analysis was performed in metacarpophalangeal joints II–V and in the wrist. Pairs of perfusion parameters in DCE-CT and DCE-MRI were compared using a two-tailed t test for paired samples and interpreted for effect size (Cohen’s d). According to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score (RAMRIS) scoring results, differentiation of synovitis-positive and synovitis-negative joints with both modalities was assessed with the independent t test.
Results: The two modalities yielded similar perfusion parameters. Identified differences had small effects (d 0.01–0.4). DCE-CT additionally differentiates inflamed and noninflamed joints based on rBF and rBV but tends to underestimate these parameters in severe inflammation. The total dose-length product (DLP) was 48 mGy*cm with an estimated effective dose of 0.038 mSv.
Conclusion: DCE-CT is a promising imaging technique in arthritis. In patients with a contraindication to MRI or when MRI is not available, DCE-CT is a suitable alternative to detect and assess arthritis.