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Gout, calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) deposition disease, and calcium hydroxyapatite deposition disease (HADD) are the three most common crystal-induced arthropathies. Multimodality imaging may help in their diagnosis, and is useful for a precise and comprehensive assessment and grading of the related osteoarticular damage. Plain film radiography, due to its low cost and wide availability, is the first imaging technique to be used in crystal deposition diseases, providing well-known and specific findings for CPPD deposition disease and HADD, while it may undergrade the early osteoarticular lesions in gouty patients. Ultrasonography (US) is a radiation-free approach that accurately depicts crystal deposits in cartilage, peri- and intra-articular soft tissues, but it does not give a panoramic view of the affected joints. Cross-sectional imaging techniques can examine crystal deposits in the spine and axial joints. CT has the potential to distinguish monosodium urate (MSU) crystals from calcium containing crystals, due to their different attenuation values. MRI may demonstrate synovitis, erosions and bone marrow edema in gouty patients and it may differentiate tophi from other soft tissue nodules due to its high contrast resolution and power of tissue characterization.
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