Objective: To investigate the clinical presentation and medical treatment of patients with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) during the first year of illness. Our study focused on 3-year outcomes in a subsample of patients who were followed up longitudinally.
Methods: From 2000 to 2013, 597 patients with systemic JIA and a disease duration of ≤12 months were recorded in the National Pediatric Rheumatologic Database. Among those patients, 3-year outcome data were available for 133. These data included the clinical Juvenile Arthritis Disease Activity Score in 10 joints (JADAS-10) and the physician's global assessment score (on a numerical rating scale), as well as assessment of joint involvement, growth retardation, and patient-reported outcomes.
Results: The median clinical JADAS-10 declined significantly, from 7 in 2000 to 2 in 2013, while the proportion of patients with inactive disease increased from 19% in 2000 to 41% in 2013. The rate of treatment with systemic glucocorticoids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) remained stable from 2000 to 2013. By 2013, the proportion of patients with systemic JIA who were treated with biologic DMARDs had increased to 20%. At 3-year follow-up, 72% of patients with systemic JIA had inactive disease, and 77% had no functional limitations. Growth retardation was associated with persistently high disease activity and continuing treatment with systemic glucocorticoids. At the 3-year follow-up, one-third of patients were still being treated with systemic glucocorticoids.
Conclusion: The proportion of patients with inactive disease has increased over the past decade. Possible explanations may include improved access to specialized care, additional treatment options, and earlier or faster step-up treatment. However, challenges in the management of systemic JIA remain, as ∼30% of patients continue to present with ongoing active disease.
© 2016, American College of Rheumatology.