Objectives: To investigate the 10-year clinical course of patients with seronegative arthritis with the emphasis of reclassification of diagnoses when applicable.
Methods: A total of 1030 patients including 435 seronegative cases were classified as early RA in 1997-2005 at Jyväskylä Rheumatology Centre and prospectively scheduled for a ten-year follow-up. Clinical data from the follow-up visits and the case-reports until and including the 10-year visit or death, whichever happened earlier, were retrospectively collected and reviewed with re-classification of the cases when applicable. Descriptive statistics were used.
Results: Among the 435 seronegative cases (69 % women, baseline mean age was 59 years), 13 (13/435 [3%]) could be reclassified as seropositive or erosive RA: 4 turned seropositive (2 for ACPA and 2 for RF [> 2x reference level]) and 9 developed erosions typical for RA. Reclassification revealed 68 (16%) cases of polymyalgia rheumatica, 46 (11%) psoriatic arthritis, 45 (10%) osteoarthritis, 38 (8.7%) spondyloarthritis, 15 (3.4%) plausible reactive arthritis, 10 (2.3%) gout, 17 (3.9%) pseudogout, 6 (1.4%) paraneoplastic arthritis, 6 (1.4%) juvenile arthritis, 2 (0.5%) haemochromatosis, 3 (0.7%) ankylosing spondylitis, 2 (0.5%) giant cell arteritis, and 8 miscellaneous diagnoses. The other 140 patients (32%) could not be reclassified in any clear-cut diagnosis and had features of transient arthritis (n=41), seronegative spondyloarthritis (n=47), while 49 remained unspecified.
Conclusions: Over a 10-year follow-up period, reclassification revealed significant heterogeneity in the diagnosis of seronegative RA. Therefore, seronegative arthritis should not be studied as a homogenous entity.