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J Rheumatol. 2001 Mar;28(3):554-9.

Spondyloarthropathies in Japan: nationwide questionnaire survey performed by the Japan Ankylosing Spondylitis Society.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Shiga University of Medical Science, Japan.



The Japan Ankylosing Spondylitis Society conducted a nationwide questionnaire survey of spondyloarthropathies (SpA) in 1990 and 1997, (1) to estimate the prevalence and incidence, and (2) to validate the criteria of Amor and the European Spondylarthropathy Study Group (ESSG) in Japan.


Japan was divided into 9 districts, to each of which a survey supervisor was assigned. According to unified criteria, each supervisor selected all the clinics and hospitals with potential for SpA patients in the district. The study population consisted of all patients with SpA seen at these institutes during a 5 year period (1985-89) for the 1st survey and a 7 year period (1990-96) for the 2nd survey.


The 1st survey recruited 426 and the 2nd survey 638 cases, 74 of which were registered in both studies. The total number of patients with SpA identified 1985-96 was 990 (760 men, 227 women). They consisted of patients with ankylosing spondylitis (68.3%), psoriatic arthritis (12.7%), reactive arthritis (4.0%), undifferentiated SpA (5.4%), inflammatory bowel disease (2.2%), pustulosis palmaris et plantaris (4.7%), and others (polyenthesitis, etc.) (0.8%). The maximum onset number per year was 49. With the assumption that at least one-tenth of the Japanese population with SpA was recruited, incidence and prevalence were estimated not to exceed 0.48/100,000 and 9.5/100,000 person-years, respectively. The sensitivity was 84.0% for Amor criteria and 84.6 for ESSG criteria.


The incidence and prevalence of SpA in Japanese were estimated to be less than 1/10 and 1/200, respectively, of those among Caucasians. The adaptability of the Amor and ESSG criteria was validated for the Japanese population.

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