The Use of Imaging to Detect Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Use of Imaging to Detect Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints, most often the feet and hands. The symptoms include painful swelling of the joints, stiffness, and sometimes weight loss and fatigue. Early diagnosis of this debilitating condition is critical.  The longer it takes to secure a diagnosis the more likely it is that the patient will end up with long-term joint damage.

There are a number of ways to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, but imaging scans are an important part of the process. Blood tests are used in the first instance to detect the presence of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an inflammatory marker, and anti-CCP antibodies. Positive blood tests results don’t provide a definitive diagnosis, but if they are suggestive of rheumatoid arthritis, joint imaging scans will be carried out before the patient books a surgeon for a knee operation.


X-rays have been used for decades, but although they are useful in providing a baseline picture of what the joint looks like, they are less useful in aiding a diagnosis, particularly in the early stages of the disease’s progression. The fact that an X-ray only takes an image from one angle is another limitation. Nevertheless, X-ray is an important imaging tool for the monitoring of rheumatoid arthritis disease progression.

Once it becomes apparent that patients have more serious joint abnormalities, doctors will recommend that a patient has an ultrasound and MRI scan.

Ultrasound Scan

Ultrasound imaging is a low cost, radiation free, alternative to MRI scans. Recent advances in ultrasound imaging technology allow doctors to view inflamed joints in far greater detail, which is very useful in monitoring disease progression.

In a recent study that compared X-ray imaging and ultrasound in 100 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, ultrasound detected 127 abnormalities compared to just 32 abnormalities in patients scanned using X-rays. The researchers concluded that ultrasound was much better at detecting abnormalities in early stage rheumatoid arthritis. However, the accuracy of diagnosis does depend on the skill of the ultrasound technician and the equipment used.

Further clinical testing will be used before doctors can determine whether ultrasound testing is more effective than X-ray testing for the monitoring of early-stage joint destruction. In the meantime, X-ray analysis continues to be used to measure disease progression.

MRI Scan

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are useful for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis, but the cost of the procedure is a prohibitive factor. An MRI scanner uses a large magnet and radio waves to produce incredibly detailed images of the body. MRI scans are risk-free and can be used as often as is needed. In fact, repeat MRI scans are very useful in tracking the progression of the disease.

MRI scans and ultrasound can both detect inflammation, bone erosion, and tendon abnormalities, but an MRI scan will detect edema in the bone marrow that predicts the presence of bony erosions so typical of rheumatoid arthritis.

An X-ray may be the first imaging technique used, but patients will have follow-up tests using ultrasound imaging. If there are any questions as to the severity of disease progression or the type of arthritis the patient has, an MRI scan may be ordered.

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Are Diagnostic Tests for IBS Effective

Are Diagnostic Tests for IBS Effective?

IBS is believed to affect around 10% of the world’s population. That’s an awful lot of people suffering from stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating and constipation. Unfortunately, however, diagnosing this miserable condition is not always easy. Doctors often rely on anecdotal evidence from patients and many people are told there is nothing wrong with them.

As anyone with IBS knows, dealing with IBS pain on a daily basis makes living a normal life very difficult. There are over-the-counter medications you can take and following a gluten-free diet works for many people, but before you try anything, you need to know that IBS is at the root of your problems.

Eliminating Serious Health Conditions

The symptoms of IBS are sometimes caused by more serious health conditions, such as celiac, Crohn’s Disease, or even bowel cancer. Instead of allowing your doctor to fob you off with a non-diagnosis, ask for further tests to eliminate more serious health problems. The following diagnostic tests should confirm or eliminate IBS, so you can work out a treatment plan and get on with living a normal life.

CT Scan with Contrast

Doctors often recommend a CT scan to rule out any more serious conditions. A CT scan allows the physician to see detailed images of the internal organs, including the digestive tract. Contrast agents enable the organs to be seen more clearly. A CT scan contains a small amount of radiation, so you should avoid the procedure if you are pregnant, or suspect you might be.


A colonoscopy is used to examine the inside of the bowel. The patient must drink a preparatory laxative drink 24 hours prior to the test, in order to clean out the bowels completely. During the test, a small camera inside a flexible tube is inserted into the colon via the rectum. It sounds more unpleasant than it actually is, so you shouldn’t be too worried about having the test. A colonoscopy will detect signs of inflammation, which is common in IBS sufferers, and also polyps and tumors (if present).

Your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, bloating, or he can feel any lumps during a physical examination.


An X-Ray with a barium enema is sometimes used to detect signs of IBS, but this has largely been replaced by colonoscopies.

Blood Tests

Your doctor may also order some blood tests to rule out coeliac disease, which can be detected by the presence of antibodies in the blood. However, if you have recently eliminated gluten from your diet, the blood test won’t be effective as there won’t be large numbers of antibodies present.

A new blood test developed in 2015 detects two antibodies associated with IBS: anti Cdtb and anti-vinculin. According to researchers, these antibodies show up in more than 90% of people with the symptoms of IBS.

IBS can cause a lot of misery, so it is essential that you seek medical help if you suffer from symptoms of IBS on a regular basis.

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Growing Concern in National News – A Dramatic Rise in Heroin Related Deaths

Growing Concern in National News – A Dramatic Rise in Heroin Related Deaths

Within the past year, heroin overdose deaths have been significantly on the rise, but what is not known is how many are actually the result of a lethal dose of heroin. Many deaths that had been reported were not autopsied and so the amount of deaths that were really the result of heroin, itself, is now known. What is being observed at the moment is that a growing number of these deaths which on the surface seem to be a fatal dose of heroin by injection, are actually the result of that illicit drug being laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is known to be 50 times more powerful than morphine and an amount the size of just two or three grains of table salt can be lethal.

Previously Held Theories

Statistically, many addicts who don’t actually make it all the way through recovery programs and who have died within the past year or two, were thought to have taken more than their recovering body could handle after a long abstinence. Many deaths attributed to heroin OD were said to be the result of stressing the body that had been clean for a prolonged period of time, leading to cardiac arrest.

Few autopsies were conducted in the beginning which led to the theory that addicts were coming out of recovery too soon and upon using for that first time, hit their bodies with more than they could handle having built up resistance. Unfortunately, not all programs are like one Los Angeles long term heroin rehab program that continues on with the recovering addict after care in-house. Follow-up treatment is rare in many cases, but with the growing number of addicts hitting the streets again, LA is making a concerted effort to stay with addicts for longer throughout recovery.

Ohio Leads the Pack

In 2016 Ohio emerged as the state with the most deaths by overdose as a result of drugs laced with fentanyl. Those numbers are growing in Ohio, keeping it a forerunner in fentanyl related deaths and the scary thing is, many of those deaths are not related to heroin at all. Some are getting black market fentanyl brought in from China and it is being pressed into counterfeit look-alike opioid pills. Some are so realistic that they are passing for name brand pharmaceuticals. The DEA is adding more agents to their task force and it is a growing concern that current efforts are ineffective against the sheer amount being shipped illegally into the US as compared to the very minute amount necessary to create a lethal dose.

Whether an addict lives in California or Ohio, it is imperative that all addicts be apprised of this potentially deadly situation. While there is no immediate solution to stopping the entry of Chinese fentanyl, what can be encouraged is that addicts seek professional help in their quest towards recovery. Abstinence is the only real solution and that assumes professional help in recovery. Rather than play with our life, if you are an addict, seek help today. Street drugs are not closely monitored pharmaceuticals so being aware of the problem just could save your life. Again, seek help before it really is too late.

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Top Natural Alternatives to Painkillers

Across the US and other countries, people are turning to natural medicines to help counter and/or limit drug resistance, addiction and side-effects. With bacteria becoming more resistant to antibiotics, there is a race from drug companies to come up with new medicines. However, there are a number of natural substances that can provide just as much help as traditional drugs. Continue reading

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Radiology Asia Conference Will Discuss “State-of-the-Art” Imaging Tech to Improve Clinical Performance

In spite of all the enhancements that have been made in the field of medical imaging recently, the rate of bringing the latest technology to more medical institutions in practice has not been that great. This is the reason why getting “state-of-the-art” technology in imaging and radiology to clinical practice is going to be the theme and focus of the upcoming bi-annual Radiology Asia Conference. The conference will expectedly be attended by roughly 800 delegates, among whom, 50 well known names in the field will be speaking. It is expected that some of the topics below will be in limelight during the assembly. Continue reading

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When Luxury Gives Way to Necessity – Air Purifiers

Water is believed to be the elixir of life, but clean air protects the lungs. With pollution and deforestation on the rise, it is difficult to scout for clean air. Everything we breathe is mixed with dust and harmful particles that cause respiratory problems. We are exposed to unclean air both outdoors and indoors. In short, we are not spared from harmful intake either way! To curb such disturbances, manufacturers have produced air purifiers. Similar to the water purifier, an air purifier purifies the air in your house and makes the air fit for breathing. This acts as a detox for those aggrieved souls once they get back home. With the current increase in pollution, the babies are at a vulnerable spot. The chances of them contracting diseases are much higher than the adults. Continue reading

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The Art of Relaxing On a Chair

After a long day’s toil, all you crave for is a comfortable bed and good food by your side. You wish to stretch and relax and sleep, but with the workload, your body aches. We begin to suffer from premature joint pains and back problems, which can decrease work productivity. The pain often persists till the next day giving you a tough time to balance and make most of your time. You often resort to expensive spas and masseuse parlors, but time is a major issue. In a fast-paced life, we have not been given the benefits of time. So, a regular visit to your spa or massage parlor is not feasible all the time. Therefore, to combat this issue, we have attractive massage chairs available in the market that are affordable and user-friendly. Continue reading

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5 Fast Fixes for Your Sore Throat

You can get a sore throat anytime of the year. Like it or not, it hinders your eating and speaking habits as well. Sore throat oftentimes begins with pain, irritation, or itchiness in the throat. Swallowing food might be difficult, and the pain may worsen when you try to speak. A sore throat starts with throat pain, and if left unattended will even lead to the flu. Continue reading

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Advanced Research Programs Are Bringing Stunning Improvements

In a study done by Northeastern University and its AACSB online MBA department, there are 12 top startups that are known for their advanced research programs and practical solutions to healthcare problems. Since healthcare is one of the leading industries on the market today, it is very interesting to see these startups investing billions in research programs that focus on anything from genome sequencing to DNA testing and practical mobile apps. Continue reading

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Tips on How to Choose the Best Health Care IT System

Are you thinking about purchasing a new health care IT system? If you are deciding to introduce a new IT system to a health care facility you work for, it’s vital to carry out some research first before you commit to this type of investment. Once you are happy with your findings, you will have greater peace of mind and be able to use this type of system to its full potential once it has been installed. Below are ten tips on how to choose the best health care IT system for your requirements. Continue reading

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