Background: The outcome of undifferentiated arthritis (UA) ranges from remission to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria.
Objectives: To report the outcome of UA after 1 year of follow up and compare the disease course of patients who presented with UA, but evolved into RA within 1 year (UA-RA group), with that of patients who presented with RA fulfilling the ACR criteria (RA-RA group).
Methods: The diagnosis of 330 patients who presented with UA was recorded at 1 year. The UA-RA and RA-RA groups were then followed up for 3 more years. Outcome measurements were radiographic progression, disease activity, and functional capacity.
Results: From 330 patients who were diagnosed UA, 91 had evolved into RA at 1 year; 62 patients had presented with RA. No significant differences were detected between the UA-RA and RA-RA groups in median Sharp/van der Heijde score at baseline, radiographic progression rates, disease activity, and functional capacity. However, significantly more disease modifying antirheumatic drugs were prescribed in the RA-RA group.
Conclusion: The disease outcome of patients who present with UA that evolves into RA within 1 year is the same as that of patients who present with RA as measured by radiographic progression, disease activity, and functional capacity.