Objective: To assess changes in symptoms and signs, salivary function, serologic activity, and disease progression in primary Sjogren's syndrome (SS).
Methods: Treatment records on 80 patients seen in clinic and diagnosed with primary SS by defined criteria were reviewed. Forty-nine patients were evaluated at least twice a minimum of 5 years (mean 7 years) apart. Salivary flow rates from each of the major salivary glands and laboratory values were obtained. A structured interview with questions pertaining to signs and symptoms of primary SS was given and a physical examination was performed. An additional 26 patients completed a followup questionnaire by mail and their current medical records were obtained for review. For this group, the followup period was a mean of 10 years after their initial evaluation. Five patients were deceased.
Results: The patients seen twice showed relative stability in their salivary measurements and in their serologic values. The subjective sicca symptoms of oral and ocular dryness among the 75 surviving patients remained prominent. Very few individuals developed another connective tissue disease, therefore evolving into secondary SS. Among the 80 patients, 6 cases of B cell lymphoma were recognized during the followup period.
Conclusion: Although it is not a benign condition, primary SS is a very slowly progressing disease without rapid deterioration in salivary function, systemic markers of disease activity, or dramatic changes in symptoms, with the exception of a high incidence of lymphoma.