Use of ultrasound increases patients’ awareness of rheumatoid arthritis
- POSTED: 12 Oct 2013 18:45
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A local study which uses ultrasound to identify inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis, found that it led to an improvement in patients' awareness of their disease.
SINGAPORE: A local study which uses ultrasound to identify inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis, found that it led to an improvement in patients' awareness of their disease.
The study by the National University Hospital (NUH) was released ahead of World Arthritis Day, which falls on Saturday.
By projecting images of the patient's joints onto a screen, both doctor and patient are able to visually identify abnormalities.
The six-month study found that clinical remission, or when the patient is completely well, saw a bigger improvement for those who received the ultrasound, compared to those who did not.
For patients who received the ultrasound, clinical remission improved from 24 per cent to 46 per cent.
But for those who did not, clinical remission improved only slightly from 26 per cent to 28 per cent.
Researchers believe this is because the patients were more likely to adhere to their treatment when they were visually made aware of their disease.
Dr Peter Cheung, consultant at the division of rheumatology at NUH, said: "By using ultrasound and visually actually showing the patients that the swelling is inflamed with redness, that actually visually gives a cue to the patient that this is actually a bad thing.
“They would be more likely to be worried and also more at ease with actually accepting more treatment or proper adjustment of treatment."
NUH also recently piloted a multidisciplinary arthritis clinic session to provide a one-stop service for patients.
During the sessions, a physiotherapist, a hand occupational therapist and podiatrist are present on-site to assess the patient.
The use of the ultrasound will be incorporated into the multi-disciplinary service, which sees about 30 patients a session.
Using the ultrasound machine is quite an acquired skill, but doctors say they see the operation of an ultrasound being increasingly incorporated into the training programmes of rheumatologists.