Do anti-inflammatory drugs undermine the use of MRI as a means of assessing inflammation in axial spondyloarthritis?

Disease - Ankylosing spondylitis

Lead applicant - Dr Gareth Jones

Organisation - University of Aberdeen

Type of grant - Clinical Studies

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £468,197.55

Start date - 1 September 2016

Reference - 21022

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this clinical study is to investigate whether non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can prevent a true analysis of inflammation using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Why is this research important?

Axial spondyloarthritis is an inflammatory joint disease of the spine and pelvis. MRI is a standard imaging technique for patients with this disease, and a key factor in early diagnosis is MRI-evidence of inflammation in the pelvic joints. NSAIDs are commonly used in patients with axial spondyloarthritis and are often prescribed before they have rheumatology consultations.

However, the extent to which these drugs affect the appearance of inflammation of the pelvic joints on MRI scans is currently unknown. There is a concern that a true representation of the level of axial spondyloarthritis-related inflammation will not be seen if patients are taking NSAIDs before they have an MRI scan. This potentially limits the ability of the doctor to make an accurate and timely diagnosis, and therefore the patient may not receive appropriate management. This research will reveal if patients with axial spondyloarthritis should stop taking NSAIDs, for a short period, prior to MRI scans.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research will allow for recommendations regarding whether patients should be asked to refrain from taking NSAIDs immediately prior to an MRI scan and to rely, instead, on other pain relief during this period. This will help ensure that patients receive an accurate assessment of joint inflammation, and a correct diagnosis with more appropriate management.