New classification system may allow earlier treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

September 21, 2010

A revised system of classification for rheumatoid arthritis may allow earlier identification of the disease, earlier treatment, and ultimately better patient outcomes.

A revised system of classification for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may allow earlier identification of the disease, earlier treatment, and ultimately better patient outcomes. The new system has been published in the September issues of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases and Arthritis & Rheumatism, HealthDay News reported.

Daniel Aletaha, MD, of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and colleagues identified factors that could distinguish individuals at risk for RA among people with undifferentiated inflammatory synovitis.

The authors declare the classification “definite RA” as being based on a substantiated diagnosis of synovitis in 1 or more joints, absence of a different diagnosis that better explains the synovitis, and a collective score of 6 or more from single scores in the following areas: number and site of joints affected (score range, 0 to 5); serologic abnormality (0 to 3); acute phase response elevation (0 to 1); and symptom duration levels (2 levels, 0 to 1).

“The new American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism classification criteria for RA presents a new approach with a specific emphasis on identifying patients with a relatively short duration of symptoms who may benefit from early institution of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy or entry into clinical trials of promising new agents that may halt the development of disease that currently fulfills the 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria,” the authors wrote.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or medical device companies.