The aim is to develop strong and valid instruments to assess change in disease activity and joint damage, and to identify predictors of disease progression.
In collaboration with international researchers, we have developed and tested the Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Score (RAMRIS) (Østergaard et al., 2009). RAMRIS is considered the standard magnetic resonance imaging method for clinical trials. Recently, a cartilage assessment method has also been developed and tested (Østergaard et al., 2011).
In a Danish multi-center study, inflammation in the bone marrow near the joint predicted destruction of that joint and reduced joint function (Hetland et al., 2010), and this has been confirmed in large clinical trials (Baker et al., 2013). This information has been included in national and international (Colebatch AN et al., 2013) recommendations.
In an ongoing study (by Signe Møller-Bisgaard, PhD student), we are investigating whether intensification of treatment based on the presence of inflammation in the bone marrow reduces joint damage and preserves joint function.
In collaboration with Canadian researchers, we have developed and tested definitions for different types of lesions in the sacroiliac joints and spine (Østergaard et al., 2009).
Our studies have revealed a possible connection between inflammation and progression in damage (Pedersen et al., 2011), which is a highly debated topic.
Currently, we are investigating the relation between inflammation and bone damage in the sacroiliac joints and spine in relation to different treatments (Pedersen et al., 2014).