Objectives: Unlike rheumatic fever (RF), the association of post-streptococcal reactive arthritis (PSRA) and carditis is controversial. The American Heart Association recommends anti-streptococcal prophylaxis for PSRA for one year, repeating echocardiogram and discontinuation of prophylaxis if normal. In this study the possibility of late cardiac involvement was investigated in a cohort of children with PSRA.
Methods: Children diagnosed with PSRA and followed at the Paediatric Rheumatology Units at two medical centres in Israel had echocardiography carried out by a paediatric cardiologist, at least 1 year following diagnosis.
Results: 146 patients with PSRA met the study criteria. Of these, 69 had undergone echocardiography 1-6.9 years (mean 3.6 years ± 1.5 years) after diagnosis. All had normal major parameters. Twenty (29.0%) patients had minimal cardiac findings, including 5 (7.2%) mild mitral insufficiency, 12 (17.4%) minimal mitral insufficiency, 2 (2.9%) mild tricuspid insufficiency and one patient (1.4%) had very mild, aortic insufficiency. Of the 77 patients who did not have echocardiography, 31 were randomly excluded from the initial study list, 26 refused to undergo echocardiography, and 20 were lost to follow-up. All were asymptomatic according to their medical record or telephone questionnaire. There were no significant differences in clinical or demographic data between those with or without echocardiography.
Conclusions: No late cardiac involvement was found in our paediatric PSRA patients. Therefore, different approaches to antibiotic prophylaxis for PSRA and ARF are probably suggested. A prospective, controlled study is needed to definitively assess the necessity of prophylaxis in PSRA.