RA Progression Rate Predicts Need for Future Surgery

UK epidemiologists presenting at the annual meeting of the British Society for Rheumatology recently reported that X-ray evidence of rapid rheumatoid arthritis (RA) progression during the first 12 months of the disease can help predict the need for later surgery of hand, foot, hip, and knee joints. Lewis Carpenter and colleagues analyzed data from the Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Study and found that a change in the Larsen radiographic score of four units during the first 12 months of RA was associated with an 80% increased risk of subsequent surgery on joints of the hand and foot, and a 50% increase in the risk of later hip or knee surgery. (The 0 to 5 Larsen score includes both joint-erosion and joint-space narrowing components.) Carpenter told MedPage Today that these findings help “build the case for early treatment in rheumatoid arthritis” and support the argument that a “therapeutic window of opportunity” exists with RA.

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