American College of Rheumatology

View all recommendations from this society

Released February 21, 2013

Don’t perform MRI of the peripheral joints to routinely monitor inflammatory arthritis.

Data evaluating MRI for the diagnosis and prognosis of rheumatoid arthritis are currently inadequate to justify widespread use of this technology for these purposes in clinical practice. Although bone edema assessed by MRI on a single occasion may be predictive of progression in certain RA populations, using MRI routinely is not cost-effective compared with the current standard of care, which includes clinical disease activity assessments and plain film radiography.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) established a Top 5 Task Force to oversee the creation of its recommendations. As part of this group’s work, a multistage process combining consensus methodology and literature reviews was used to arrive at the final recommendations. Items were generated by a group of practicing rheumatologists in diverse clinical settings using the Delphi method. Recommendations with high content agreement and perceived prevalence advanced to a survey of ACR members, who comprise more than 90% of the U.S. rheumatology workforce. Based on member input related to content agreement, impact and item ranking, candidate items advanced to literature review. The Top 5 Task Force discussed the items in light of their relevance to rheumatology, level of evidence to support their inclusion, and the member survey results, and drafted the final rheumatology Top 5 list. The list was reviewed by a sample of patients with rheumatic disease and approved by the ACR Board of Directors. For further details regarding these methods, please see the manuscript published in Arthritis Care & Research at

ACR’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at


Singh JA, Furst DE, Bharat A, Curtis JR, Kavanaugh AF, Kremer JM, Moreland LM, O’Dell J, Winthrop KL, Beukelman T, Bridges SL, Chatham WW, Paulus HE, Suarez-Almazor M,Bombardier C, Dougados M, Khanna D, King CM, Leong AL, Matteson EL, Schousboe JT, Moynihan E, Kolba KS, Jain A, Volkmann ER, Agrawal H, Bae S, Mudano AS, Patkar NM, Saag KG . 2012 update of the 2008 American College of Rheumatology recommendations for the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic agents in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken);64(5):625-39.

Combe B, Landewe R, Lukas C, Bolosiu HD, Breedveld F, Dougados M, Emery P, Ferraccioli G, Hazes JM, Klareskog L, Machold K, Martin-Mola E, Nielsen H, Silman A, Smolen J, Yazici H. EULAR recommendations for the management of early arthritis: Report of a task force of the European Standing Committee for International Clinical Studies Including Therapeutics (ESCISIT). Ann Rheum Dis 2007;66(1):34–45.