Objective: To assess whether the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria for hand osteoarthritis (OA) may be used successfully to detect hand OA in population-based studies and to estimate the prevalence of hand OA in an elderly italian population.
Design: This study was part of a cross-sectional population-based survey on heart failure in the elderly (ICARe Dicomano study). All community-dwelling citizens aged >65 were considered eligible and screened by expert geriatricians for the presence of major chronic conditions, including hip, knee and hand OA, using custom-made algorithms based on standard criteria. Those subjects who screened positively were subsequently assessed by a rheumatologist.
Results: Six hundred and ninety-seven subjects (80% of the eligible population) underwent a general examination by a geriatrician. One hundred and thirty-nine of these met the ACR criteria for hand OA at screening: 22 subjects with isolated first carpometacarpal (CMC) joint OA and 117 with generalized nodal OA. 74.2% of the diagnoses were confirmed in the 101 participants re-examined in a second phase by a rheumatologist (19 subjects presented with isolated thumb-base OA and 56 with nodal OA). The estimated prevalence in the cohort was 14.9%.
Conclusions: The ACR clinical criteria for hand OA may be used in population studies, especially when the burden of this disease is evaluated.