The aim of this study was to determine if transducer pressure modifies power Doppler assessments of rheumatoid arthritis synovium at the metacarpophalangeal joints and metatarsophalangeal joints. Five rheumatoid arthritis patients of varying degrees of 'disease activity' and damage were assessed with power Doppler ultrasound scanning of the dominant hand second to fifth metacarpophalangeal joints. Two rheumatoid arthritis patients had their dominant foot first to fifth metatarsophalangeal joints assessed with power Doppler ultrasound. Ultrasonography was performed with a high frequency transducer (14 MHz) with a colour mode frequency of 10 Mhz, and a standard colour box and gain. In the joint that showed the highest power Doppler signal, an image was made. A further image was taken after transducer pressure was applied. In all patients, there was increased flow to at least one joint. After pressure was applied, power Doppler signal intensity markedly reduced in all images and in some there was no recordable power Doppler signal. Increased transducer pressure can result in a marked reduction or obliteration in power Doppler signal. This power Doppler 'blanching' shows the need for further studies to evaluate sources of error and standardization before power Doppler ultrasound becomes a routine measure of 'disease activity' in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Power Doppler