Imaging tests for Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis

Your rheumatologist will carry out imaging tests to examine the appearance of your spine and pelvis, as well as further blood tests.

These may include:

  • an X-ray
  • a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • an ultrasound scan

X rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used in making or confirming a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis, but these tests have limitations. X rays may show changes in the spine and sacroiliac joints that indicate ankylosing spondylitis; however, it may take years of inflammation to cause damage that is visible on x rays.

X-ray tests of the sacroiliac joints can demonstrate signs of inflammation and erosion of bone. X-rays of the spine can progressively demonstrate straightening, “squaring” of the vertebrae, and end-stage fusion of one vertebra to the next (ankylosis). Fusion up and down the spine can lead to a “bamboo spine” appearance on X-ray tests with complete loss of mobility.

MRI may allow for earlier diagnosis, because it can show damage to soft tissues and bone before it can be seen on an x ray. Both tests may also be used to monitor the progression of ankylosing spondylitis.

Although scans can sometimes show spinal inflammation and fusing of the spine (ankylosis), damage to the spine can’t always be picked up in the early stages of AS.

This is why diagnosis is often difficult. In many cases confirming a diagnosis is a long process that can take years.

A diagnosis of AS can usually be confirmed if an X-ray shows inflammation of the sacroiliac joints (sacroiliitis) and you have at least one of the following:

  • at least three months of lower back pain that gets better with exercise and doesn’t improve with rest
  • limited movement in your lower back (lumbar spine)
  • limited chest expansion compared with what is expected for your age and sex

If you have all three of these features but don’t have sacroiliitis – or if you only have sacroiliitis – you’ll be diagnosed with probable ankylosing spondylitis.



Symptoms evaluation for Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis

Physical Exam for Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis

Medical History for Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis



Lab tests for Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis



Related Topics

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis Complications of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis Prognosis for patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis
Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis Future for patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis
Doctor Consultation-Ankylosing Spondylitis Is there a cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Risk factors of Ankylosing Spondylitis Self Management and Home Remedies for Ankylosing Spondylitis