Background: Dermatomyositis is associated with significant morbidity and occasional mortality. Currently there is no consensus on treatment for patients with dermatomyositis.
Objective: Our purpose was to review the clinical features and response to therapy of patients with dermatomyositis and compare these data with previous series of patients with dermatomyositis/polymyositis.
Methods: Clinical characteristics of 65 patients seen during a 10-year period were reviewed retrospectively. Twenty-one of these patients were enrolled in a prospective, uncontrolled study of treatment with high-dose prednisone followed by slow tapering.
Results: Clinical features were similar to those previously described; however, muscle strength at diagnosis was on average greater in patients in this series than in patients previously reported. Malignancy was present in 5 of 43 adult patients (12%), but was not found in patients with juvenile dermatomyositis. Another connective tissue disease was present in 19% of patients. Twelve patients had dermatomyositis sine myositis. Eighteen of 21 patients (85%) in the prednisone study group had resolution of myositis.
Conclusion: Patients with dermatomyositis in this series had less active myositis at presentation, but were otherwise similar to patients with dermatomyositis/polymyositis previously reported. Treatment with high-dose daily prednisone followed by slow tapering was effective.