Cervical Lesions Related to the Systemic Progression in Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Abstract

Study Design.

Cross-sectional study of cervical involvement in rheumatoid arthritis.

Objectives.

To clarify the correlation between the deterioration of cervical lesions and the systemic progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

Summary of Background Data.

The natural course of cervical lesions varies. To date, no systemic parameter has been clarified to predict the progression.

Methods.

One hundred seventy-three patients with rheumatoid arthritis participated in this study. The authors studied the progression of cervical lesions and investigated the relation between the types of cervical subluxation at the end of study and the following four variables: the serum level of C-reactive protein, the number of joints with erosion, carpal height ratio, and disease subset (least erosive subset, more erosive subset, and mutilating disease subset).

Results.

Of the 173 patients, 55 already had cervical subluxation before entering the study. During the follow-up period, 44 patients deteriorated radiographically, and 77 (45%) had cervical involvement, including involvement of upper cervical lesions in 65 patients, upper lesions combined with subaxial subluxation in 10, and subaxial subluxation alone in 2. The upper cervical subluxation progressed in the order of anterior atlantoaxial subluxation, atlantoaxial subluxation combined with vertical subluxation, and vertical subluxation alone. Deterioration of upper cervical lesion and occurrence of subaxial subluxation were closely correlated with an elevation of serum C-reactive protein level, an increase in the number of joints with erosion, and a decrease in the carpal height ratio. The incidence of cervical involvement and the extent of deterioration were different among the disease subsets.

Conclusions.

The serum level of C-reactive protein, the number of joints with erosion, and the carpal height ratio correlated closely with the extent of the cervical subluxation. The average C-reactive protein values during the follow-up period correlated with progression of the cervical lesions. The classification of rheumatoid disease subset was useful for predicting the terminal feature of the cervical lesions.

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