Diagnosis of rheumatic fever: current status of Jones Criteria and role of echocardiography

Indian J Pediatr. 2000 Mar;67(3 Suppl):S11-4.


The original Jones Criteria as proposed by Dr. T. Duckett Jones have been modified four times and the updated revised criteria were published in 1992. According to this latest publication major manifestations are carditis, polyarthritis, chorea, erythema marginatum and subcutaneous nodules. Minor manifestations include fever, arthralgia and laboratory findings of elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein and prolonged PR interval on ECG. For making a diagnosis of acute rheumatic fever, two major, or one major and two minor manifestations must be accompanied by supporting evidence of antecedent group A streptococcal infection in the form of positive throat culture or elevated or rising anti-streptolysin titre. The updated guidelines also highlighted a subgroup of "exceptions to Jones Criteria" for patients with chorea, indolent carditis and previous history of rheumatic fever or "rheumatic heart disease". Role of echocardiography has not been defined in these modifications but may be important, as clinical detection of soft murmurs may be difficult due to tachycardia. Doppler and color flow mapping is more sensitive in picking up minor digress of valvular regurgitation. Several studies have confirmed that the yield of carditis with valvular regurgitation increased with use of echocardiography in patients with acute rheumatic fever. Also echocardiography is of great help in mixed valve lesions to determine the severity of each lesion. Other abnormalities detected on echocardiography in acute carditis include prolapse of the valve, focal nodular thickening of leaflets and pericardial effusion. Jones Criteria are guidelines to assist the physician and should not be substituted for clinical judgement as strictly following them may result in underdiagnosis of this disease in our country.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography, Doppler / methods*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Endocardium / pathology
  • Humans
  • Rheumatic Fever / diagnosis*
  • Rheumatic Fever / diagnostic imaging
  • Rheumatic Fever / etiology
  • Rheumatic Nodule
  • Streptococcal Infections / complications
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / isolation & purification