Performance of the ASAS classification criteria for axial and peripheral spondyloarthritis: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Ann Rheum Dis. 2017 May;76(5):886-890. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-210747. Epub 2017 Feb 8.


Objective: To summarise the evidence on the performance of the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) classification criteria for axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) (also imaging and clinical arm separately), peripheral (p)SpA and the entire set, when tested against the rheumatologist's diagnosis ('reference standard').

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed to identify eligible studies. Raw data on SpA diagnosis and classification were extracted or, if necessary, obtained from the authors of the selected publications. A meta-analysis was performed to obtain pooled estimates for sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios, by fitting random effects models.

Results: Nine papers fulfilled the inclusion criteria (N=5739 patients). The entire set of the ASAS SpA criteria yielded a high pooled sensitivity (73%) and specificity (88%). Similarly, good results were found for the axSpA criteria (sensitivity: 82%; specificity: 88%). Splitting the axSpA criteria in 'imaging arm only' and 'clinical arm only' resulted in much lower sensitivity (30% and 23% respectively), but very high specificity was retained (97% and 94% respectively). The pSpA criteria were less often tested than the axSpA criteria and showed a similarly high pooled specificity (87%) but lower sensitivity (63%).

Conclusions: Accumulated evidence from studies with more than 5500 patients confirms the good performance of the various ASAS SpA criteria as tested against the rheumatologist's diagnosis.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Outcomes research; Spondyloarthritis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Sacroiliac Joint*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spondylarthropathies / classification*
  • Spondylarthropathies / diagnosis*
  • Spondylarthropathies / diagnostic imaging