Effect of treatment on the outcome of very early rheumatoid arthritis

Scand J Rheumatol. 2001;30(3):143-8. doi: 10.1080/030097401300162905.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of treatment on the outcome of very early RA.

Methods: In a 3-year prospective study of 27 patients with very early RA (VERA) (symptoms <4 months before diagnosis) and 122 patients with early RA (symptoms between 4-24 months) the effect of active treatment on the clinical picture, functional capacity, and radiological progression was evaluated.

Results: Initially VERA patients had a more active clinical picture and worse functional capacity. Despite a higher number of DMARDs used in VERA patients, C-reactive protein and Ritchie index remained significantly higher in these patients (although significant improvement occurred). They also had a more rapidly progressive disease (higher Larsen score/month of symptoms) during pre-treatment period, the progression of which was retarded with early, active DMARD therapy. By the end of 3 years, the rate of progression ran parallel in both groups.

Conclusion: Active treatment had an impact on the rate of radiological progression and clinical activity but not on the functional outcome in patients with initially active RA of short duration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Radiography
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antirheumatic Agents