OBJECTIVES: Radiographic manifestations of synovitis (e.g., erosions) can be observed only in the late stage of rheumatoid arthritis. Ultrasound is a noninvasive, cheap, and widely available technique that enables the evaluation of inflammatory changes in the peripheral joint. In the same way, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) enables qualitative and quantitative measurements. The objectives of the study were to compare the sensitivity and accuracy of ultrasound in detecting subclinical synovitis and tenosynovitis with those of contrast-enhanced MRI. METHODS: The ultrasonography and contrast-enhanced MRI findings of the wrist, metacarpophalangeal, and proximal interphalangeal joints (n=450) of 75 patients with a history of joint pain and morning stiffness between 6 weeks and 2 years were reviewed. The benefits score was evaluated for each modality. RESULTS: The ultrasonic findings showed inflammation in 346 (77%) joints, while contrast-enhanced MRI found signs of early rheumatoid arthritis in 372 (83%) joints. The sensitivities of ultrasound and contrast-enhanced MRI were 0.795 and 0.855, respectively, and the accuracies were 0.769 and 0.823, respectively. Contrast-enhanced MRI had a likelihood of 0-0.83 and ultrasound had a likelihood of 0-0.77 for detecting synovitis and tenosynovitis at one time. The two imaging modalities were equally competitive for detecting synovitis and tenosynovitis (p=0.055). CONCLUSION: Ultrasound could be as sensitive and specific as contrast-enhanced MRI for the diagnosis of subclinical synovitis and tenosynovitis.