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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2003 Feb;42(2):268-75.

Predictors of radiological progression and changes in hand bone density in early rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden.



To identify predictors for radiological and functional outcome and bone loss in the hands in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the first 2 yr of disease and to study the relationship between these variables.


An inception cohort of consecutively recruited patients was examined at baseline and after 12 and 24 months using X-rays of hands and feet, clinical [28-joint count, Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), global visual analogue scale (VAS), grip strength] and laboratory (erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, markers of bone formation and resorption) measurements and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry measurements of the hands.


Joint destruction increased significantly during the study, with the Larsen score at baseline as the strongest predictor. Radiological progression and bone loss over 24 months were significantly retarded in patients responding to therapy. The effects of the shared epitope and initial high inflammatory activity on radiological progression were overridden by the therapeutic response. Radiological progression correlated significantly with bone loss. Global VAS, Larsen score and HAQ at inclusion significantly predicted change in HAQ over time.


Radiological progression and bone loss were retarded by early therapeutic response. Bone loss was related to radiological progression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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