Background: The objective of the study was to describe the clinical characteristics of atypical articular presentations during the initial outbreak and recurrence in patients with acute rheumatic fever (ARF) in the paediatric age group.
Methods: This was a retrospective, observational study conducted between January 2012 and December 2014 on all suspected cases of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) fulfilling either WHO 2004 or Australian guidelines with atypical articular manifestations ie, presence of at least one of the following features: duration of symptoms more than 3 weeks; monoarthritis/arthralgia; involvement of small joints of hand and feet and/or cervical spine and/or hip joint; and, not responding to salicylates in 1 week.
Results: 'Atypical' pattern was present in 63% (39/62) of patients with articular manifestations, of which arthralgia was a common manifestation (57%). Polyarticular afflictions were predominately non-migratory (additive) in both atypical (74%; 29/39) and typical (82%; 18/23) groups. Monoarticular (33%) affliction of the joints constituted a significant disease manifestation. Time from onset to diagnosis was >3 weeks in 79% of patients while small joints involvement and axial joint involvement occurred in half of the cases (51%). Inadequate response to NSAIDs was found in three (7%) cases.
Conclusion: Atypical manifestations in ARF may well be mistaken for a connective tissue disorder, post streptococcal reactive arthritis and septic arthritis. Physicians should be made aware of these features to prevent diagnostic dilemma, and to effect institution of appropriate management including penicillin prophylaxis.
Keywords: Arthralgia; Atypical arthritis; Jones criteria; Rheumatic fever.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier B.V.