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Scand J Rheumatol. 1998;27(3):194-6.

Destruction and arthroplasties of the metatarsophalangeal joints in seropositive rheumatoid arthritis. A 20-year follow-up study.

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  • 1Rheumatism Foundation Hospital, Heinola, Finland.


Destruction and arthroplasties of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP)joints and interphalangeal (IP) joint of the big toe were evaluated in 103 seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in a prospective follow-up study at onset and at 1, 3, 8, 15, and 20 years from entry. A total of 83 patients attended the 15-year follow-up and 68 attended the 20-year follow-up. Data on the forefoot synovectomies and reconstructions performed were obtained from patient documents and radiographs. The radiographs were assigned by the Larsen method; in the end point analysis the last or preoperative radiograph was used. Erosions of Larsen grade > or =2 were present in 6%/ of the investigated 1236 joints at onset and after 20 years in 62%, respectively. At the end point, 24% of the joints were severely damaged (Larsen grade 4-5). The MTP I and IP joints showed the lowest grade of destruction during follow-up, and MTP V the worst destruction. Synovectomies were performed in 24 MTP joints; a total of 75% of these joints were later resected. MTP II-V head resections were performed in 21% and the Keller procedure in 12% of the MTP I joints. Erosive changes occur early in the MTP joints, and their grade of destruction is high; therefore they should be included in radiographic criteria and scores. MTP synovectomies are insufficient treatments for RA without concomitant immunosuppression of the disease.

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