Hungarian Radiology

[Rheumatoid arthritis: significance and methodology of cervical spine X-rays in everyday practice]

NÉMETH Ildikó, BUDAY Ilona, MOLNÁR Éva, NYITRAI Márta, SAÁRY Krisztina, TARKOVÁCS Andrea, VARSÁNYI Nóra, FARBAKY Zsófia

SEPTEMBER 20, 2008

Hungarian Radiology - 2008;82(05-06)

[Cervical spine joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis may lead to progressive vertebral instability. It is a severe risk factor for cord compression, which may even lead to sudden death. Many patients with atlantoaxial subluxation may have no symptoms referable to the neck. True degree of subluxation may occur during anaesthesia when the neck muscles are relaxed and protective spasm is absent. The cervical deformities can be visualised on conventional, transoral and functional lateral view in the flexion and extension positions of the neck. The aim of our study is to demonstrate the usefulness of cervical dynamic X-ray for patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This is the first classical radiological imaging method in the diagnosis and in radiographic follow-up. It is a very important method in the preoperative evaluation to prevent definitive neurologic injury. We describe the method for screening, measuring and grading cervical subluxations and instability in our everyday routine.]

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Nerve conduction study and gastrocnemius H reflex response in rheumatoid arthritis

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Objectives - We aimed to evaluate nerve conduction studies and gastrocnemius H reflex responses in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and compared to the healthy adult subjects. Materials and methods - Twenty-six RA patients and twenty-two healthy adult subjects were included in the study. The nerve conduction study (NCS) findings and bilateral gastrocnemius H reflex responses were evaluated in all the groups. Age, gender, subcutaneous nodules, joint deformities, laboratory parameters, duration of disease, anti-rheumatic drug and steroid usage were recorded. Activity of disease was assessed using a 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28).The functional status was measured using the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ), pain intensity measured using a visual analog scale (VAS). Results - The rate of electroneuromyographic (ENMG) abnormalities was 73% in RA patients. The most common diagnosis was carpal tunnel syndrome (61.4%). There were no significant correlations between ENMG findings and clinical and laboratory features evaluated. Right H reflex latencies were statistically longer in RA patients (p=0.03). According to calculated cut-off levels, there were more subjects with longer H reflex latencies in RA patients. Conclusions - In this study, entrapment neuropathies were found common as independent identity from duration and severity of disease in RA patients. For H reflex latencies, cut-off values were longer in RA patients. It may provide information about the early neuropathic involvement of long peripheral nerves in RA patients. But this findings are needed to be supported by larger population study.

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[INTRODUCTION - The lethal septic infection was studied in a randomized (non-selected) autopsy population of 234 in-patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The patients died at the National Institute of Rheumatology between 1970 and 1999. PATIENTS AND METHOD - The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of lethal septic infection with or without purulent arthritis in rheumatoid arthritis; the relationship between purulent arthritis and lethal septic infection; the clinically missed diagnosis of lethal septic infection and purulent arthritis; the influence of the main complications and associated diseases on lethal septic infection with and without purulent arthritis; the pathogens in lethal septic infection; and the clinico-laboratory parameters associated with lethal septic infection in rheumatoid arthritis. RESULTS - Lethal septic infection was found in 31 (13.24%) of 234 rheumatoid arthritis patients. Purulent arthritis complicated lethal septic infection in 15 (6.4%) of 31 patients. There was a significant association between lethal septic infection and purulent arthritis. Sepsis was detected clinically in 17 of 31 lethal cases and purulent arthritis was detected 9 of 15 septic infection complicated with suppurative articular processes. The coexistent complications (systemic vasculitis, AA amyloidosis), and associated diseases (tuberculosis with or without miliary dissemination, malignant tumors, diabetes mellitus) did not influence the prevalence of septic infection. The most frequent pathogenic agents were: Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella species, Streptococcus species. The patients with septic infection had significantly lower levels of beta-globulin, and higher values of Waaler-Rose or latex fixation test in comparison to patients without septic infection or without complications. CONCLUSION - Lethal septic infection may exist in rheumatoid arthritis without the classical clinical symptoms of sepsis, and clinically latent suppurative processes may be found at autopsy. The missed clinical diagnosis of a fatal complication is explained by the weak immune response and atypical clinical symptoms of elderly patients mainly treated with steroids and immunosuppressive drugs.]