Identifying patients with axial spondyloarthritis in primary care: how useful are items indicative of inflammatory back pain?

Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases
A BraunJürgen Braun


The value of clinical items defining inflammatory back pain to identify patients with axial spondyloarthritis (SpA) in primary care is unclear. To identify predictive clinical parameters for a diagnosis of axial SpA in patients with chronic back pain presenting in primary care. Consecutive patients aged < 45 years (n=950) with back pain for > 2 months who presented to orthopaedic surgeons (n=143) were randomised based on four key questions for referral to rheumatologists (n=36) for diagnosis. The rheumatologists saw 322 representative patients (mean age 36 years, 50% female, median duration of back pain 30 months). 113 patients (35%) were diagnosed as axial SpA (62% HLA B27+), 47 (15%) as ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and 66 (21%) as axial non-radiographic SpA (nrSpA). Age at onset ≤ 35 years, improvement by exercise, improvement with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, waking up in the second half of the night and alternating buttock pain were identified as most relevant for diagnosing axial SpA by multiple regression analysis. Differences between AS and nrSpA were detected. No single item was predictive, but ≥ 3 items proved useful for good sensitivity and specificity by receiver operating characteristic modelling. This stud...Continue Reading


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