Radiographs of the hands, wrists and feet are the gold standard in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but they can only look at cumulative damage and cannot look at inflammation. For people in which the diagnosis of RA is uncertain, a more sensitive modality such as MRI or ultrasound can show subclinical inflammation in joints and early erosions, which cannot be seen on X-ray, leading to earlier treatment.

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