Prospective Follow-Up of Cortical Interruptions, Bone Density, and Micro-structure Detected on HR-pQCT: A Study in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Healthy Subjects

M. Peters*, J. P. van den Bergh, P. Geusens, A. Scharmga, D. Loeffen, R. Weijers, B. van Rietbergen, A. van Tubergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


ObjectivesThe purpose of the study was to prospectively investigate change (repair or progression) in the number, surface area and volume of cortical interruptions, bone density (vBMD) and micro-structural parameters assessed by high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) in finger joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with synthetic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (sDMARDs) and/or biologic DMARDs (bDMARDs) over a 1-year follow-up period, and in comparison with healthy subjects (HS).MethodsThirty-two patients with RA (221 joints, 53% on bDMARDs) and 32 HS (117 joints) were assessed at baseline and after 1year using semi-automatic analysis of HR-pQCT images. Mean changes (group level) and the proportion of joints (joint level) with changes beyond the least significant change were calculated.ResultsAt baseline, 530 interruptions were identified in patients, and 136 in HS. The mean of the interruption parameters did not significantly change in either group Mean vBMD decreased more in patients than in HS (-4.4 versus -1.1 mgHA/cm(3), respectively). In patients versus HS, proportionally more joints showed repair in interruption volume (6.6% versus 1.7%, respectively) and loss of vBMD (26.7% versus 12.9%, respectively). In patients on sDMARDs versus patients on bDMARDs, proportionally more joints showed progression in the number of interruptions and loss of vBMD (6.1% versus 1.8% and 31.3% versus 17.2%, respectively).ConclusionsHR-pQCT is able to quantify bone repair and progression. Cortical interruption-, vBMD-, and micro-structure were impaired in RA, of which vBMD and micro-structure further deteriorated, particularly in patients on sDMARDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-581
Number of pages11
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Cortical interruptions
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography
  • Bone mineral density
  • Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs

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