Diagnosis and course of early-onset arthritis: results of a special early arthritis clinic compared to routine patient care

Br J Rheumatol. 1998 Oct;37(10):1084-8. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/37.10.1084.


Objective: Early arthritis patients referred to an Early Arthritis Clinic (EAC) (n = 233) were compared to 241 patients from the routine out-patient clinic with respect to lag time between the onset of symptoms and the visit to the rheumatologist, clinical presentation and the consistency of the diagnosis after 1 yr.

Results: The reduction in median lag time for the EAC patients was at least 3 months. An insidious onset of symptoms was found more often in the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in the routine clinic. In 70% of all cases, a diagnosis could be made after 2 weeks and, if the clinical diagnosis was definite RA, this hardly changed during the following year. Early erosions were seen in 25% of RA patients and were associated with a positive rheumatoid factor (OR 2.08, 95% CI 0.95 4.59).

Conclusion: An early diagnosis of RA at the EAC is possible and reliable; the high frequency of erosions illustrates the need for early treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital*
  • Patient Care Management / methods*