The Future of Ultrasounds in Rheumatology


A secukinumab researcher explains why the practice may become the "next stethoscope" of medicine.

Secukinumab (Cosentyx) outcomes for patients with synovitis treated through 12 weeks showed the therapy was associated with significant improvement per standardized ultrasound synovitis score (CLOESS).

The preliminary findings from the phase 3b, 52-week ULTIMATE trial, presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Convergence 2020, is a first-of-its-kind assessment into monoclonal antibody treatment in biologic-naïve patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) via ultrasonography results.

But, study authors do not anticipate it to be the only such trial.

In an interview with HCPLive® during ACR 2020, study author Catherine Bakewell, MD, of Intermountain Medical Group in Salt Lake City, discussed the potential use of ultrasound in assessing psoriatic and rheumatic disease going forward.

The means of disease assessment and therapy efficacy monitoring may be improved significantly with routine ultrasounds, she explained.

“The ultrasound gives objective data in a matter of seconds that could dictate therapy strategies based on subclinical inflammation,” Bakewell explained. “It really holds us accountable to making sure we’re measuring the right source of pain, making sure we’re measuring inflammation only and not a subjective experience.”

Though the ULTIMATE findings provide a more robust depiction of secukinumab in treated patients and will likely inform next means of research, Bakewell does not anticipate it will be an overnight adoption. That said, many rheumatology fellows and medical school students are moving through the ranks with a valuation for the practice.

“As this phenomenon goes, this has been called the next stethoscope—not just in rheumatology, but in medicine overall,” Bakewell said.

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