Adult Still's disease: manifestations, disease course, and outcome in 62 patients

Medicine (Baltimore). 1991 Mar;70(2):118-36.


Clinical and laboratory manifestations, disease course, outcome, and HLA associations were studied in an inception cohort of 62 subjects with adult Still's disease (ASD) from 5 Canadian universities. Twenty-eight patients (45%) were female and the median age at disease onset was 24 years. In general, the clinical features observed in our patients were identical to those in other published series. However, significantly higher frequencies of sore throat (92%), weight loss (76%), lymphadenopathy (74%), pleuritis (53%), pneumonitis (27%), and abdominal pain (48%) were noted in our patients compared to those in a recent literature review. Liver involvement with hepatomegaly (44%) or abnormal liver function tests (LFTs) (76%) was common and was responsible for the 2 deaths attributed to Still's disease in our series. Severe liver failure always occurred in conjunction with aspirin or NSAID therapy. Therefore, whether or not aspirin or other NSAIDs are used, we recommend close monitoring of LFTs in patients with ASD, especially early in the disease course. Laboratory manifestations were similar to those already reported. Leukocytosis (greater than or equal to 15,000/mm3) was present in 50 patients (81%), a normochromic, normocytic anemia (hemoglobin less than or equal to 10 g/dl) in 42 (68%), and an elevated ESR in all. The mean follow-up of the 62 patients was 70 months (range, 2-163). Twenty-one patients (34%) had a self-limited disease course, 15 (24%) an intermittent course, and 22 (36%) a chronic disease course. Four patients (6%) died, and 2 of these deaths were attributed to Still's disease. For those patients who experienced a recurrence of ASD, the flares were usually of shorter duration and milder in severity than the initial episode. No initiating factor for disease exacerbation was identified in our patients. Although 22 of 62 patients (36%) had a chronic disease course, 52 (90%) were in ARA Functional Class I, and only 4 and 2 patients were in ARA Functional Class II and III, respectively. Patients with Still's disease had higher scores than the controls on the Pain (P less than 0.01) and Physical Disability (P less than 0.05) subscales of Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales health status questionnaire. Joint radiographs performed at the follow-up evaluation disclosed typical carpometacarpal and intercarpal involvement in 16 of 39 patients. In our series, HLA-B17, B18, B35, and DR2 were significantly associated with ASD. Three significant predictors of an unfavorable outcome, either a chronic disease course or a longer time to clinical remission, were identified.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Arthritis, Juvenile* / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Juvenile* / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Juvenile* / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies