3 years ago

Ultrasound verified inflammation and structural damage in patients with hereditary haemochromatosis-related arthropathy

Gernot Zollner, Anja Ficjan, Christina Duftner, Judith Gretler, Andreas Stadlmayr, Emma Husar-Memmer, Josef Hermann, Rusmir Husic, Jochen Zwerina, Christian Datz, Shahin Zandieh, Elisabeth Krones, Viktoria Trimmel, Christian Dejaco, Roland Axman, Angelika Lackner



Chronic arthropathy occurs in approximately two thirds of patients with hereditary haemochromatosis (HH). The aim was to study inflammatory and structural lesions in patients with HH with (HH-A) and without arthropathy (HH-WA) using ultrasonography.


This was a cross-sectional study of 26 patients with HH-A, 24 with HH-WA and 37 with hand osteoarthritis (HOA). Clinical examination was performed in 68 joints, and we retrieved data on hand function, pain and global disease activity (all using a visual analogue scale (VAS)), morning stiffness and ferritin levels. Standard x-ray and ultrasound were conducted in 36 joints (hands, hips, knees and ankles), and we graded grey scale synovitis (GSS), power Doppler ultrasound (PD), osteophytes, erosions, tenosynovitis and cartilage damage semi-quantitatively in accordance with prior publications.


Ultrasound revealed a high proportion of inflammatory changes in HH-A; GSS was found in 96.2% and PD signals in 80.8% of patients (median GSS score 9, PD score 2.5). The frequency of these findings was similar in HOA. Inflammation was also common in HH-WA, yielding GSS in 83.3% and PD signals in 50.0% of patients. Cartilage damage was most prominent in HH-A as compared to HH-WA and HOA (median scores 11.0, 2.5 and 2.0, respectively). The prevalence and extent of erosions and osteophytes were similar in all groups. None of the ultrasound scores was associated with pain or function; GSS, PD, osteophyte and cartilage scores correlated with x-ray-verified structural damage.


A high prevalence of ultrasound-verified inflammation and cartilage damage was found in HH-A, and to a lesser extent in HH-WA. These findings were associated with x-ray-verified damage but not with clinical scores of pain and function.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s13075-017-1448-0

DOI: 10.1186/s13075-017-1448-0

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