Objective: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is in most instances a progressive disease. Very little information is available on halting of the radiographic damage, particularly in later phases of the disease. We studied radiographic remission of RA lasting to the end of follow-up, covering the period 1973-96.
Methods: Radiographs of hands and feet were taken at onset and at 1, 3, 8, 15 and 20 years from entry in 102 cases of recent onset (< 6 months) seropositive and erosive RA. A Larsen score of 0-100 was formed for 20 joints of hands and feet. If the score did not worsen by more than one point between one of the above time points and the end of the study, the patient was considered to be in remission.
Results: Remission was confirmed in 27 (26%) of the patients. In 3 cases the remission was from the 1-year check-up, in 5 from the 3-year check-up, in 6 from the 8-year check-up and in 13 cases from the 15-year check-up. Some of the remission cases had a mild disease from the outset, but there were cases in which the disease process had led to marked joint destruction before slowing down.
Conclusion: This data may serve as a basis for comparison with subsequent cohort studies on new treatments-of-choice.