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Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Imaging Studies and Other Tests

Your child's health care professional may order X-rays or similar imaging studies. These images may help confirm the diagnosis of JRA or suggest other conditions that might cause similar symptoms.

  • X-rays: X-rays give information about whether or not damage has occurred in the joint.
  • Bone scan: A bone scan may be necessary if the results of the workup do not support the diagnosis of JRA. A bone scan can detect inflammation in the bone and other abnormalities that do not show up well on X-ray.
  • MRI: MRI is similar to X-ray but is much more detailed and gives a better three-dimensional view of the joint. It is especially useful if there has been a fall or accident that might have injured joints. It usually is not ordered unless the results of the workup do not point clearly to a diagnosis of JRA.
  • CT scan: CT scan also is similar to X-ray but provides much greater detail. It may be ordered when the results of the workup do not support the diagnosis of JRA. CT scan is particularly good at ruling out tumors and other bony abnormalities that could cause arthritis-like symptoms.
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan: DEXA scanning is used to measure bone density and can identify osteopenia or osteoporosis (loss of bone tissue) in children with polyarticular JRA.

Other tests

Other tests may be ordered in specific circumstances. Most children with JRA do not require these tests.

  • Arthrocentesis: This is sometimes called "joint aspiration." It means the removal of a sample of synovial fluid (fluid from a joint cavity) for testing. It is usually done to rule out infections in the joints.
  • Synovial biopsy: An orthopedic surgeon uses a probe to remove a small amount of the synovial tissue from a joint. The tissue is examined under a microscope for clues as to what is causing synovial damage. This may be helpful to exclude other conditions that can cause symptoms similar to those of JRA.

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