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Arthritis Rheum. 2001 May;44(5):1177-83.

Predictors of outcome in patients with oligoarthritis: results of a protocol of intraarticular corticosteroids to all clinically active joints.

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University of Leeds, UK.



To determine the outcome and the factors that predict the persistence of synovitis following intraarticular corticosteroid injections in patients with recent-onset oligoarthritis.


Fifty-one patients with < or =5 joints with synovitis (disease duration < or =12 months) were treated with intraarticular injections of methylprednisolone into all joints with clinical synovitis. Predictors of outcome were sought, with the primary end point a complete response (no synovitis on clinical examination) at 12 weeks.


Patient's and physician's assessments of disease activity, the swollen joint count, and function (by Health Assessment Questionnaire) were all significantly improved at 12 weeks (P < 0.001). Twenty-nine patients (57%) were judged to have had a complete response at 2 weeks. The best predictor of response at 12 and 26 weeks was the presence or absence of synovitis at 2 weeks (P = 0.002 and P = 0.004, respectively). At 52 weeks of followup, nearly 50% of the patients still had evidence of synovitis.


Intraarticular corticosteroids are an effective treatment for early oligoarthritis, but there is still a high level of long-term morbidity. Failure to respond by 2 weeks indicates a high likelihood of persistent disease, and this is relevant when producing management guidelines and selecting patients for studies focusing on early intervention.

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