Radiographic progression in weight-bearing joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis after TNF-blocking therapies
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- Seki, E., Matsushita, I., Sugiyama, E. et al. Clin Rheumatol (2009) 28: 453. doi:10.1007/s10067-008-1076-9
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The aim of the present study was to assess the influence of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking therapies on weight-bearing joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Changes in clinical variables and radiological findings in 213 weight-bearing joints (69 hip joints, 63 knee joints, and 81 ankle joints) of 42 consecutive patients were investigated at baseline and at 1 year of TNF-blocking therapies. Structural damage to the weight-bearing joints was assessed using the Larsen scoring method. Detailed comparisons of the sizes and locations of erosions were performed for each set of radiographs of the respective joints. Assessment of radiographs of the 213 weight-bearing joints indicated progression of the Larsen grade in eight joints. Another five joints without Larsen grade progression showed apparent radiographic progression of joint damage based on increases in bony erosions. Overall, 13 joints (6%) of eight patients (19%) showed progression of joint damage after 1 year of TNF-blocking therapies. Analysis of each baseline grade indicated that radiographic progression of joint damage was inhibited in most grade 0–II joints. On the other hand, all hip and knee joints with pre-existing damage of grade III/IV showed apparent progression even in patients with good response. The results further suggested that radiographic progression may occur in less damaged joints when the patients were non-responders to the therapy. Among the weight-bearing joints, ankle joints showed different radiographic behavior and four ankle joints displayed improvement of radiographic damage. Early initiation of anti-TNF therapy should be necessary especially when the patients are starting to show early structural damage in weight-bearing joints.