Prevalence and clinical manifestations of ankylosing spondylitis in young Greek males
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Increased awareness and sensitivity of general physicians have increased the early diagnoses of seronegative arthritis in young patients, while new agents such as anti-TNF blockers have significantly changed the treatment of the disease. To investigate the prevalence, the clinical manifestations, and the ability for military service of young Greek males (18–30 years old) with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in the pre-anti-TNF era. We retrospectively studied the AS cases recorded from 1989 to 1995 of the rheumatology department of the largest General Military Hospital in Greece; the diagnosis was based on the modified New York criteria for AS. A total of 285 AS cases were diagnosed among 357,184 young men. The overall prevalence of AS on December 1995 was estimated at 8.2 cases per 10,000 young men (95 % C.I. 7.2–9.2). All the patients had chronic back pain. Two hundred forty (84 %, 95 % C.I. 79–88 %) patients presented sacroiliitis of whom 163 (68 %, 95 % C.I. 62–73 %) were bilateral. Two hundred five patients (72 %, 95 % C.I. 66–77 %) had peripheral joint involvement. Thirty-one patients presented with anterior uveitis (11 %, 95 % C.I. 8–15 %). One patient had IgA nephropathy. None had gut involvement. HLA-B27 antigen was found in 257 patients (90 %, 95 % C.I. 86–93 %). Ninety-one patients (32 %, 95 % C.I. 27–38 %) had permanent discharge from the military service, while 128 (45 %, 95 % C.I. 39–51 %) were able for auxiliaries attendances. The prevalence of AS for the age group 18–30 years old in this young Greek men cohort was significantly lower than in other Caucasian European populations, and the clinical manifestations were considered as mild.
KeywordsAnkylosing spondylitis Disability Epidemiology Prevalence
We would like to thank the medical and nursing staff of the rheumatology unit of 401 General Military Hospital of Athens for looking after the AS patients during the study period (1989–1995).