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Journal: Rheumatology (Oxford, England)


A finding of high BMD on routine DXA scanning is not infrequent and most commonly reflects degenerative disease. However, BMD increases may also arise secondary to a range of underlying disorders affecting the skeleton. Although low BMD increases fracture risk, the converse may not hold for high BMD, since elevated BMD may occur in conditions where fracture risk is increased, unaffected or reduced. Here we outline a classification for the causes of raised BMD, based on identification of focal or generalized BMD changes, and discuss an approach to guide appropriate investigation by clinicians after careful interpretation of DXA scan findings within the context of the clinical history. We will also review the mild skeletal dysplasia associated with the currently unexplained high bone mass phenotype and discuss recent advances in osteoporosis therapies arising from improved understanding of rare inherited high BMD disorders.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Bone density, Density, Skeletal system, Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, Human skeleton, Skeleton


Accompanying the increased use of biologic and non-biologic antirheumatic agents, patients with RA have been exposed to an increased risk of Pneumocystis jirovecii infection, which causes acute fulminant P. jirovecii pneumonia (PCP). Mortality in this population is higher than in HIV-infected individuals. Several guidelines and recommendations for HIV-infected individuals are available; however, such guidelines for RA patients remain less clear. Between 2006 and 2008 we encountered a clustering event of P. jirovecii infection among RA outpatients. Through our experience with this outbreak and a review of the recent medical literature regarding asymptomatic colonization and its clinical significance, transmission modes of infection and prophylaxis of PCP, we have learned the following lessons: PCP outbreaks among RA patients can occur through person-to-person transmission in outpatient facilities; asymptomatic carriers serve as reservoirs and sources of infection; and short-term prophylaxis for eradication of P. jirovecii is effective in controlling PCP outbreaks among RA outpatients.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Methotrexate, Cyclophosphamide, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Sulfasalazine


Objective. To study the role of different imaging modalities, ultrasonography, conventional radiography (CR) and CT, in visualization of chondrocalcinosis of the knees in patients with CPDD.Methods. Twenty-five patients (14 males and 11 females) with CPDD were enrolled in the study. Diagnosis was made according to D.J. McCarty classification criteria. All patients had arthritis of the knee and underwent aspiration of SF from the knee and microscopic investigation of SF samples. Diagnosis of CPDD was crystal proven. Three imaging methods were performed in patients: CR, CT and US of the knees.Results. CR of the knee confirmed cartilage calcification (CC) in 13 patients, CT in 18 patients and US in 25 patients. No difference in age or disease duration between patients with CC detected by different imaging methods was found.Conclusion. US appeared to be a helpful tool, possibly better than CR or CT, in revealing CC in patients with CPDD. Informativity of CT and CR in the detection of CC is almost equal.

Concepts: Medical imaging, Cartilage, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Difference


Objective. RA and axial SpA have an important impact on patients' lives. The objective of this study was to explore the reporting of different aspects of that impact in publications, with a focus on differences between diseases and over time.Methods. A systematic literature review retrieved all articles reporting on the life impact of RA or axial radiographic SpA in adults published within the last 10 years and issued from European research. The data were classified into physical impact (including pain, functional assessment and fatigue), psychological impact (including psychological distress and coping) and social impact (including relationships, family and social life). The number of articles published over time was analysed by linear regression.Results. In all, 1352 abstracts were screened and 149 publications (40 056 patients) were analysed: 129 articles (86.5%) concerned RA and 16 (10.7%) concerned axial SpA. The mean number of articles reporting on the physical aspects of impact was 11.4 (s.d. 4.8) per 2-year period, but increased more than 2-fold (from 7 articles in 2001-3 to 15 in 2010-11), in particular due to recent publications on fatigue, whereas the number of articles on psychological aspects [mean 12.4 (s.d. 4.0)] decreased markedly after 2006. Publications reporting on social aspects [mean 8.2 (s.d. 4.1)] remained globally stable.Conclusion. In the era of biologics, there is an interest in the patient-perceived life impact of RA and axial SpA in the European literature, but the impact of RA has been the subject of greater exploration. There are clearly trends over time in the reporting of impact.

Concepts: Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Academic publishing, Subject, Arithmetic mean, Arthritis, Publishing, Psoriatic arthritis


The theory of myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) caused by trigger points (TrPs) seeks to explain the phenomena of muscle pain and tenderness in the absence of evidence for local nociception. Although it lacks external validity, many practitioners have uncritically accepted the diagnosis of MPS and its system of treatment. Furthermore, rheumatologists have implicated TrPs in the pathogenesis of chronic widespread pain (FM syndrome). We have critically examined the evidence for the existence of myofascial TrPs as putative pathological entities and for the vicious cycles that are said to maintain them. We find that both are inventions that have no scientific basis, whether from experimental approaches that interrogate the suspect tissue or empirical approaches that assess the outcome of treatments predicated on presumed pathology. Therefore, the theory of MPS caused by TrPs has been refuted. This is not to deny the existence of the clinical phenomena themselves, for which scientifically sound and logically plausible explanations based on known neurophysiological phenomena can be advanced.

Concepts: Scientific method, Critical thinking, Rheumatology, Science, Syndromes, Pain, Myofascial pain syndrome, Ailments of unknown etiology


The aim of this study was to integrate and examine the association between NSAID use and venous thromboembolism (VTE).

Concepts: Hypertension, Glucocorticoid, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Anti-inflammatory, Paracetamol



Objectives. To explore the ability of six outcome measures to capture clinically important changes in patients with rheumatic diseases undergoing hand surgery and to study predictors of changes in activity performance in different patient and surgery strata. Methods. A total of 172 patients (median age 59 years, disease duration 18 years) were stratified into subgroups: diagnosis, age, general function, type of surgery. Performance of daily activities and satisfaction were assessed by the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM). Clinically important improvement was defined as a two-step improvement in COPM. Hand function was assessed by reference to grip strength (Grippit), pinch strength (pinch gauge), hand pain (visual analogue scale) and grip ability (Grip Ability Test). Responsiveness was calculated as effect size (ES) at 6-month follow-up compared with baseline. Results. Clinically important improvement was reached by 25-69% depending on outcome measure and type of surgery. Improvement was smaller in patients with multiple simultaneous procedures. Regardless of diagnosis, age, general function and type of surgery, patients improved significantly in all measures, with the largest changes in COPM(performance) and COPM(satisfaction) (ES 0.7-1.9). The ES of pain ranged from 0.2 to 0.7, Grippit from 0.1 to 0.5 and pinch gauge from 0.4 to 0.8. Hand pain was the only significant predictor of clinically important improvement of COPM(performance): odds ratio 0.71, 95% CI 0.51, 0.98 (P = 0.041). Conclusion. COPM was the most sensitive instrument to capture clinically important improvement, and hand pain was a significant predictor of improvement, irrespective of diagnosis, age, general functional level and type of surgery.

Concepts: Medicine, Hospital, Rheumatology, Physician, Effect size, Hand strength, Grip strength, Canadian model of occupational performance


Objectives. For effective health care provision, knowledge of disease prevalence is paramount. There has been no systematic endeavour to establish continent-based AS estimates, however, prevalence is thought to vary by country and background HLA-B27 prevalence. This study aimed to estimate AS prevalence worldwide and to calculate the expected number of cases.Methods. A systematic literature search was conducted. Prevalence data were extracted and used to calculate the mean prevalence by continent and the expected number of cases based on country-specific prevalence (or, if missing, the prevalence from neighbouring countries). A second estimate was made using the prevalence from countries with similar HLA-B27 prevalences if a country-specific prevalence estimate was not available.Results. The mean AS prevalence per 10 000 (from 36 eligible studies) was 23.8 in Europe, 16.7 in Asia, 31.9 in North America, 10.2 in Latin America and 7.4 in Africa. Additional estimates, weighted by study size, were calculated as 18.6, 18.0 and 12.2 for Europe, Asia and Latin America, respectively. There were sufficient studies to estimate the number of cases in Europe and Asia, calculated to be 1.30-1.56 million and 4.63-4.98 million, respectively.Conclusion. This study represents the first systematic attempt to collate estimates of AS prevalence into a single continent-based estimate. In addition, the number of expected cases in Europe and Asia was estimated. Through reviewing the current literature, it is apparent that the continuing conduct of epidemiological studies of AS prevalence is of great importance, particularly as diagnostic capabilities improve and with the recent development of the criteria for axial SpA.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Estimator, Continent, United States, Europe, Arithmetic mean, Ankylosing spondylitis, North America


Objective. The objective of this study was to draw up a set of recommendations for the format and content of the musculoskeletal ultrasonography (MSUS) report in rheumatology.Methods. A panel of rheumatologists, members of the MSUS Study Group of the Italian Society of Rheumatology, met in order to identify the main discrepancies in the MSUS report. A set of 15 recommendations was then defined, aimed at resolving the main discrepancies. They consisted of information about the motivations for the MSUS examination, the equipment, the US modalities and scanning technique, a list of the examined structures and findings, the scoring/grading systems, the number of images and main findings to include and conclusions. Subsequently a Delphi-based procedure was started in order to obtain agreement on a core set of recommendations. Consensus for each recommendation was considered achieved when the percentage of agreement was >75%.Results. Three complete rounds were performed. The response rate was 85.2% for the first round, 78.3% for the second and 88.9% for the third. Finally, consensus was obtained for 14 of 15 statements. These 14 statements represent the recommendations of the group for the format and content of the report and documentation in MSUS in rheumatology.Conclusion. To the best of our knowledge, our group has produced the first recommendations for the format and content of the report and documentation in MSUS in rheumatology. The report is an integral part of the MSUS examination and its use in a homogeneous form can help in the correct interpretation of the findings.

Concepts: Mathematics, Rheumatology, Group, The Format, 2008 films, The Examined Life