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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Feb;52(2):267-75. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kes054. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Radiological cervical spine involvement in young adults with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology A, Paris Descartes University, Sorbonne Paris cite, Cochin Hospital, Paris, France.



Radiological cervical spine involvement in JIA has already been assessed with a large range of prevalence (5-80%), but most studies were performed a long time ago, in symptomatic JIA and without differentiating subsets of JIA. We set out to describe structural cervical spine involvement in young adults with polyarticular JIA (pJIA) regardless of the cervical symptoms and to compare lesions with those observed in adult RA.


All consecutive pJIAs followed in a transition programme were included. Standard radiographs of the cervical spine, hands, feet and hip were analysed by two independent radiologists blinded to the diagnosis. An RA control group (<55 years), matched for sex and disease duration, was recruited.


Fifty-seven pJIA and 58 RA patients were included. Radiographs showed cervical lesions in 65% of pJIA and 67% of RA patients. In total, 51% of pJIA with radiographic abnormalities had no clinical symptoms. In pJIA, the most frequent structural lesions were anterior atlantoaxial subluxation (33%), erosion of the odontoid process (19%), C1-C2 arthritis (17%) and apophyseal joint arthritis (16%). Cervical lesions in pJIA were similar to those in RA except for ankylosis and hypotrophia (P < 0.05). The presence of cervical lesions correlated with a more severe disease.


Structural cervical spine involvement is common in pJIA persisting into adulthood, frequently asymptomatic and associated with a more severe disease. We suggest that radiographic assessment of the cervical spine should be done systematically at onset of the disease and regularly during its course regardless of clinical symptoms.

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