Consensus statement on the investigation and management of non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA)

Int J Rheum Dis. 2014 Jun;17(5):548-56. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.12358. Epub 2014 Mar 28.


Aim: Non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) is axial inflammatory arthritis where plain radiographic damage is not evident. An unknown proportion of these patients will progress to ankylosing spondylitis (AS). The increasing recognition of nr-axSpA has been greatly assisted by the widespread use of magnetic resonance imaging. The aim of this article was to construct a set of consensus statements based on a literature review to guide investigation and promote best management of nr-axSpA.

Methods: A literature review using Medline was conducted covering the major investigation modalities and treatment options available. A group of rheumatologists and a radiologist with expertise in investigation and management of SpA reviewed the literature and formulated a set of consensus statements. The Grade system encompassing the level of evidence and strength of recommendation was used. The opinion of a patient with nr-axSpA and a nurse experienced in the care of SpA patients was also sought and included.

Results: The literature review found few studies specifically addressing nr-axSpA, or if these patients were included, their results were often not separately reported. Fourteen consensus statements covering investigation and management of nr-axSpA were formulated. The level of agreement was high and ranged from 8.1 to 9.8. Treatment recommendations vary little with established AS, but this is primarily due to the lack of available evidence on the specific treatment of nr-axSpA.

Conclusion: The consensus statements aim to improve the diagnosis and management of nr-axSpA. We aim to raise awareness of this condition by the public and doctors and promote appropriate investigation and management.

Keywords: ankylosing spondylitis; non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis; spondyloarthritis; tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Disease Progression
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / standards*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Radiography
  • Rheumatology / standards*
  • Spondylarthritis / diagnosis*
  • Spondylarthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Spondylarthritis / nursing
  • Spondylarthritis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome