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Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Aug;52(8):2272-6.

Long-term followup of health status in patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis after high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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  • 1Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.



High-dose chemotherapy (HDC) followed by autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is a new treatment for patients with severe, refractory rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The present study was undertaken to assess the health status of patients with severe RA over a long-term followup period after treatment with HDC + HSCT.


Health status and utility scores were assessed in 8 patients before and after treatment with HDC + HSCT. Patients were followed up for 5 years posttransplantation. Health status was assessed by the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), the RAND-36 version of the Short Form 36 (SF-36) health survey, and the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales (AIMS). Utility scores were calculated using the EuroQol (EQ-5D) questionnaire and the SF-36-derived utility index (called the SF-6D), from which quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were derived.


Most measures of health status improved compared with baseline in the first 2 years posttransplantation, notably HAQ and AIMS scores and scores on the functional status, general health, and health change summary scales of the RAND-36 version of the SF-36. Utility scores derived from the EQ-5D questionnaire and the SF-6D also increased significantly after transplantation. This was reflected in the 0.28 QALYs gained compared with baseline. For a putative 50-year-old RA patient with a life expectancy of 20 years, a threshold analysis revealed that HDC + HSCT yielded more QALYs than conventional therapy when treatment-related mortality (TRM) was <2.8%.


HDC + HSCT temporarily increased the functionality and health status of patients with severe, refractory RA. With a reported TRM of 1.3%, HDC + HSCT can be considered a realistic treatment option for patients with severe RA.

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