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21-06-2018 | Axial spondyloarthritis | Review | Article

Better Quantification of Syndesmophyte Growth in Axial Spondyloarthritis

Current Rheumatology Reports

Authors: Michael M. Ward, Sovira Tan

Publisher: Springer US


Purpose of review

We review new insights to syndesmophyte growth in axial spondyloarthritis revealed by computed tomography (CT).

Recent findings

CT allows full reliable quantitation of syndesmophytes. About 70% of patients had detectable growth in syndesmophyte volume or height in 1 year. Syndesmophyte growth is not uniform, but can be highly heterogeneous even within the same disc space of the same patient. Syndesmophytes are not randomly distributed around the vertebral rim but have preferred locations (posterolateral and anterolateral) which vary along the spine. The frequency of syndesmophyte involvement also varies along the spine. It is highest at the thoracolumbar junction and higher in the thoracic than lumbar spine.


CT syndesmophyte quantitation is a promising tool for studies of medications or biomarkers and their relations with syndesmophyte progression. The localization and growth patterns of syndesmophytes suggest importance for local factors such as mechanical stress.

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