Algorithm for identification of undifferentiated peripheral inflammatory arthritis: a multinational collaboration through the 3e initiative

J Rheumatol Suppl. 2011 Mar:87:54-8. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.101076.


Objective: To develop an algorithm for identification of undifferentiated peripheral inflammatory arthritis (UPIA).

Methods: An algorithm for identification of UPIA was developed by consensus during a roundtable meeting with an expert panel. It was informed by systematic reviews of the literature used to generate 10 recommendations for the investigation and followup of UPIA through the 3e initiative. The final recommendations from the 3e UPIA Initiative were made available to the panel to guide development of the algorithm. The algorithm drew on the clinical experience of the consensus panel and evidence from the literature where available.

Results: In patients presenting with joint swelling a thorough evaluation is required prior to diagnosing UPIA. After excluding trauma, the differential diagnosis should be formulated based on history and physical examination. A minimum set of investigations is suggested for all patients, with additional ones dependent on the most probable differential diagnoses. The diagnosis of UPIA can be made if, following these evaluations, a more specific diagnosis is not reached. Once a diagnosis of UPIA is established, patients should be closely followed as they may progress to a specific diagnosis, remit, or persist as UPIA, and additional investigations may be required over time.

Conclusion: Our algorithm presents a diagnostic approach to identifying UPIA in patients presenting with joint swelling, incorporating the dynamic nature of the condition with the potential to evolve over time.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Arthritis / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis / pathology
  • Arthritis / physiopathology
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Internationality
  • Physical Examination / methods