Objective: To compare the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) recommendations for the management of NPSLE with usual care in two tertiary centres and to detect potential pitfalls in their use for diagnosis and treatment.
Methods: A chart-based review of NPSLE manifestations was conducted in two European centres. Diagnostic and treatment decisions were compared against the EULAR recommendations for general NPSLE and specific manifestations.
Results: We studied a total of 94 patients who experienced 123 lupus-related neuropsychiatric events over 10 years. In 80% of the events, at least one EULAR-defined risk factor (previous NPSLE, generalized disease activity or aPL positivity) was present. Overall, there was good concordance between clinical care and recommendations for diagnosis and treatment (68.7% and 62.7% of events, respectively). Brain MRI was performed in the absence of a clear EULAR recommendation in 42.9% of events; therein, it was more frequently normal compared with imaging performed according to the recommendations (52.4% vs 18.5%, P = 0.008), and it did not influence management. Among patients reporting cognitive dysfunction, only 27.8% underwent the recommended neuropsychological assessment. In line with the recommendations, immunosuppressants were more frequently given in events suggestive of an inflammatory process (80.5% vs 47.6% in non-inflammatory events, P < 0.001). Notably, 52% of cerebrovascular events were managed with combined immunosuppressive/antithrombotic therapy due to either coexisting generalized lupus activity or recurrence despite prior antithrombotic treatment.
Conclusion: Despite good concordance between EULAR recommendations for NPSLE and usual clinical practice, we identified a number of issues (such as overutilization of brain MRI, suboptimal evaluation of cognitive dysfunction, and frequent use of immunosuppressives in cerebrovascular disease) that need to be investigated further.
Keywords: EULAR recommendations; MRI; immunosuppressive therapy; neuropsychiatric SLE.
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