Natural remission in inflammatory polyarthritis: issues of definition and prediction.
Harrison BJ., Symmons DP., Brennan P., Barrett EM., Silman AJ.
This paper reports the frequency and predictors of remission (no arthritis on examination and no treatment with second-line drugs or steroids within the previous 3 months) in 358 patients with early inflammatory polyarthritis (IP) referred to the Norfolk Arthritis Register. Two years after referral, 91 patients (25%) were in remission, 32 of whom had also been in remission at 1 yr. Remission rates were twice as high in patients with undifferentiated inflammatory polyarthritis at baseline as in those who satisfied criteria for rheumatoid arthritis. To identify predictors of remission, a logistic regression model was developed on a random two-thirds of the patients and validated on the remaining one-third. Remission at 2 yr was associated with male gender and fewer than six tender joints at baseline. However, even the best-fitting model was not sensitive enough to be useful clinically. Thus, amongst patients with early IP in the community, remission rates at 2 yr are low. Further, it was impossible, using simple clinical measures, to predict those patients whose arthritis would resolve.