Document Detail

Extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis: a hospital-based study.
Jump to Full Text
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19448378     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The frequency of extra-articular manifestations in rheumatoid arthritis (ExRA) differs from one country to another, so we investigated ExRA frequency in a well-defined hospital patient population with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in Saudi Arabia. We also examined possible predictors of the development ExRA.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of all patients diagnosed with RA at a university hospital during a 4-year period. Cases were classified according to the 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria for RA, and the frequency of ExRA was recorded.
RESULTS: Of 140 patients who fulfilled the criteria for the diagnosis of RA, 98 (70%) developed ExRA features. Anemia occurred in 61%, thrombocytosis in 16%, pulmonary involvement in 10%, and renal amyloidosis, vasculitis and Felty syndrome were present in 6%, 2% and 1%, respectively. The mortality rate was high (16%) in patients with ExRA. The predictors for mortality were lung involvement, age over 50 years and kidney amyloidosis.
CONCLUSION: ExRA were present in a substantial proportion of our patients, which lead to a worse disease outcome. Anemia, thrombocytosis and respiratory system involvement were the commonest. Early recognition and treatment are important to decrease mortality.
Aisha Al-Ghamdi; Suzan M Attar
Related Documents :
9562658 - Importance of reactive oxygen species in rheumatoid arthritis.
12740668 - Functional outcome and subset identification in ra patients from meridional europe: ana...
10515648 - The effect of acupuncture on patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, placebo-...
8250608 - Bronchiectasis and rheumatoid arthritis: a clinical study.
25463618 - Cortical thickness, surface area and volume measures in parkinson's disease, multiple s...
11240568 - Impact of occupational variables in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Annals of Saudi medicine     Volume:  29     ISSN:  0256-4947     ISO Abbreviation:  Ann Saudi Med     Publication Date:    2009 May-Jun
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-05-18     Completed Date:  2009-09-01     Revised Date:  2013-06-02    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8507355     Medline TA:  Ann Saudi Med     Country:  Saudi Arabia    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  189-93     Citation Subset:  IM    
Departments of Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, King Abdulaziz University Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Export Citation:
APA/MLA Format     Download EndNote     Download BibTex
MeSH Terms
Amyloidosis / diagnosis,  epidemiology,  etiology*
Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*,  diagnosis,  epidemiology
Biopsy, Needle
Follow-Up Studies
Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data*
Kidney Diseases / diagnosis,  epidemiology,  etiology*
Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis,  epidemiology,  etiology*
Middle Aged
Pericarditis / diagnosis,  epidemiology,  etiology*
Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis,  epidemiology,  etiology*
Retrospective Studies
Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
Tomography, X-Ray Computed

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Full Text
Journal Information
Journal ID (nlm-ta): Ann Saudi Med
Journal ID (publisher-id): ASM
ISSN: 0256-4947
ISSN: 0975-4466
Publisher: Medknow Publications, India
Article Information
? Annals of Saudi Medicine
Accepted Month: 3 Year: 2009
Print publication date: Season: May?Jun Year: 2009
Volume: 29 Issue: 3
First Page: 189 Last Page: 193
ID: 2813651
Publisher Id: ASM-29-189
DOI: 10.4103/0256-4947.51774
PubMed Id: 19448378

Extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis: a hospital-based study
Aisha Al-Ghamdia
Suzan M. Attarb
aFrom the Department of Internal Medicine, King Abdulaziz University Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
bFrom the Department of Rheumatology, King Abdulaziz University Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Correspondence: Correspondence: Aisha Al-Ghamdi, MD ? Department of Internal Medicine, King Abdulaziz University Hospital, PO Box 30598, Jeddah 21487, Saudi Arabia ? T: +966-2-640-8243 F: +966-2-640-8315 ? ?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammatory polyarthritis and systemic features, with a prevalence of 1% in Western populations.1 In one study in Saudi Arabia, the prevalence was 0.02% in the Al-Qassem region.2 Extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis (ExRA) occur in about 40% of patients, either in the beginning or during the course of their disease.3 The presence of ExRA is associated with severe active disease and increased mortality compared to the general population.4, 5

The frequency of ExRA specific manifestations is highly variable because of case definitions and study design. For example, nodules are easily identifiable and their incidence was reported as 30%, while pulmonary fibrosis is not clinically apparent and has a reported incidence in population studies of 6.1% compared with 30% in case findings.6 Using previously applied definitions for ExRA is of major importance to unify the diagnosis.7, 8

There are no reliable predictors for the development of ExRA, although many have been suggested.7?9 They include such constitutional factors as male sex, association with HLA-related shared epitope genes, autoantibodies such as rheumatoid factor (RF), antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (anti-CCP), as well as environmental factors such as smoking.10?15 Due to the systemic inflammatory process, the incidence of mortality in RA is increased by four-fold compared with the general population.16 Although few patients die of the disease, or of specific complications such as cervical instability or drug side effects, the major factors that predict mortality are the presence of co-existing heart and lung disease, malignancy and dementia.17 Other suggested factors that predict mortality are active disease despite medical treatment and the presence of ExRA.18 In this study, we reviewed the incidence of ExRA retrospectively at a university hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and identified clinical and biochemical risk factors for developing ExRA.


This retrospective study was conducted at King Abdulaziz University Hospital, the only teaching governmental hospital in Jeddah. The facility provides health care to a multinational population of mixed socioeconomic status. A computerized retrieval system was used to identify all patients with a registered diagnosis of RA who received treatment at the hospital during a 4-year period (1 January 2004 to 30 December 2007). RA patients were identified according to the 1987 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for RA (the most current criteria for RA diagnosis).19 The data collected from records included demographic features, clinical findings, including duration of the disease at the time of the study (classified as <1 year, ?1 to 5 years, and >5 to 10 years, and >10 years), disease activity (based on the number of tender/swollen joints or the disease activity score obtained from the 28-joint count),20 treatment, the presence of articular and extra-articular manifestations of RA, a positive family history of RA and associated co-morbidities, laboratory parameters (complete blood count, rheumatoid factor [RF] and antinuclear antibody [ANA]), and radiological changes (characteristics of lesions on chest radiographs and the typical radiological features of involved joints).

Extraarticular features included renal invovlement defined as urinary excretion of more than 500 mg protein/24 hours, cellular casts not attributable to infection, or abnormal histology on renal biopsy. Amyloidosis was considered if confirmed by biopsy or fine needle aspiration. Respiratory involvement was defined as pleuritis or interstitial lung disease, scarring and the formation of nodules in the lungs documented by a high-resolution CT scan of the chest. Pericardial involvement was considered if pericarditis and/or pericardial effusion was documented in the clinical record as related to RA. Nervous system involvement was considered compression neuropathy (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome) and peripheral neuropathy. Sjogren syndrome was defined by dryness of the eyes (xerophthalmia) and mucous membrane (xerostomia). Rheumatoid nodules were defined as subcutaneous nodules with a diameter ?5 mm in the extensor surfaces of the extremities and fingers. Hematological changes included leucopenia (WBC count <4?109/L), thrombocytosis (platelet count >400?109/L), anemia (normochromic, hypochromic or megaloblastic). Felty syndrome was considered present if there were neutropenia plus splenomegaly documented by ultrasound in the absence of other causes in the RA patient. Rheumatoid vasculitis was defined as the presence of mononeuritis multiplex or acute peripheral neuropathy, peripheral gangrene, histological evidence of necrotizing arteritis, or deep cutaneous ulcers. Ischemic heart disease, lung disease, infection and malignancy were considered co-morbid illnesses. Gender, duration of the disease, RF, ANA and smoking (either active or had stopped within the last 5 years) were evaluated as risk factors for the development of ExRA. We examined the effect of age, gender, RF and the presence of co-morbid illness on the mortality rate in patients with ExRA.

Data analysis was done using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS software, version 11). Mean and standard deviation were calculated for quantitative data and proportions for categorical variables. One-Way ANOVA and the t test were used for comparing means of continuous variables. Proportions were compared by the chi-square test and the Mantel-Haenszel test as required. Results were considered significant if the P value was less than.05. Multivariate logistic analysis was used to evaluate possible predictors of mortality.


One hundred ninety-two patients were diagnosed as having RA. Fifty-two were excluded due to incorrect diagnosis (such as registration error, premature diagnosis, or the case records did not contain enough data to support the diagnosis). One hundred forty fulfilled the 1987 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for the diagnosis of RA. A total of 98 of 140 (70%) had features of ExRA.

Seventy-four patients (75%) were women while 24 (25%) were men. Their mean (SD) age at the time of the study was 47.2 (15.6) years for females and 44.6 (13.2) for males. Sixty-one percent patients (62%) were Saudi. Duration of the disease at the time of the study is illustrated in Table 1. Three percent of our patients were smokers. Only two patients had a family history positive for RA. The main extra-articular features are shown in Table 2. Anemia was found in 60 patients (61%). Iron deficiency anemia was the commonest, affecting 52 of 60 anemic patients (87%). Normochromic normocytic anemia affected 8 patients (13%). Thrombocytosis, whether considered reactive to iron deficiency anemia or as an RA activity marker was found in 16 patients (16%). Respiratory system involvement was a common feature, affecting 10 patients (10%) in the form of interstitial lung disease and pleuritis in 7 patients (7%), while leukopenia was found in only 5 patients (5%). The lymph nodes were enlarged in 4 patients (4%). Carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid nodules were present in 3 patients (3%) while Sjogren syndrome and leg ulcer were present in 2 patients (2%). Pericardial effusion and Felty syndrome were the least frequent feature found in RA patients, occurring in 1 patient only (1%). Pericardial effusion was detected in 1 patient (1%). Vasculitis was found in 2 patients (2%).

RF was detected as positive in 72 patients (73%), according to our laboratory reference (set point range, 0-20 IU/L). ANA was positive in 37 (38%) patients. Only 20 patients (20%) performed a urine analysis. Proteinuria was found in 10 (10%) and 2 (2%) had RBC casts as well as proteinuria. Renal amyloidosis was observed in 6 patients (6%). Radiological changes were documented as periarticular erosions in 28 patients (29%) and atlantoaxial sublaxation in 4 patients (4%). Thirty-four patients (35%) had the disease in its active form. Fifty-three patients (54%) were receiving treatment in the form of disease-modified antirheumatic medication. Co-morbidities were observed in 25 patients (21%) (Table 3).

In RA patients with ExRA, the mortality rate was 16% (16 patients). In the multiple logistic regression analysis, there were certain predictors for mortality among our patients; respiratory system involvement was the major predictor with a significant statistical association (P=.001). The second predictor for mortality was the age of patients, as mortality was higher in those aged 50 years or older (P=.01). Kidney amyloidosis was the third significant associated factor (P=.05) while sex difference and RF did not show any significant association with mortality (P=.08, P=.9, respectively).


The frequency of ExRA was 70% among our patients. This is higher than in North American populations (40%), but similar to the British population (68%).1?5 Based on our search of the literature, no previous study has evaluated the percentage of ExRA in the western region of Saudi Arabia. Anemia was the most common ExRA in our population, occurring in 61% of patients, while thrombocytosis occurred in 16%, followed by interstitial lung disease in 10%. Comparing our study to Western reports, iron deficiency anemia was much higher among our patients, which might be explained by chronic blood loss due to drug side effects or poor dietary intake of iron-rich food.21 The prevalence of interstitial lung disease was similar to that in previous reports.6, 20 Kidney amyloidosis, found in 6% of patients, is frequently present late in the disease and is related to worse outcomes, including mortality18, 21

Only a small proportion of our patients (20%) had routine evaluation of their kidney function, which is a limitation of the study. The results may have differed if all patients had evaluation of their renal function. We recommend more frequent evaluation of renal involvement in patients with RA, especially in patients with a prolonged disease to evaluate proteinuria and casts. Surprisingly, rheumatoid nodules, which are reported to occur in 30% of patients,20 were only found in 3% of our population, which may have been due to underreporting of rheumatoid nodules. Other classic features (secondary Sjogren syndrome, Felty syndrome and neuropathy) were the least common, occurring in 3%, 2%, and 1% of the patients, respectively.

Our study showed that most patients who developed ExRA had positive rheumatoid factor (detected in 73% of our patients) and this was similar to previous reports.20 Data are conflicting as to whether the occurrence of ExRA decreases with prolonged disease duration. Turesson et al demonstrated that ExRA does not decrease during a 10-year follow-up.22 Our study showed a similar finding, as our patients reported more ExRA with prolonged disease duration (>10 years). Although smoking was suggested as a risk factor for the development of ExRA, we could not relate a significant association in our study as only 3% of our patients were active smokers.

RA is associated with a high risk for morbidity and premature death secondary to the earlier development of cardiovascular, lung diseases and malignancy.16?18 In our patients, the overall mortality rate was observed to be high (16%), with the following predictors: respiratory system involvement (P=.0001), age older than 50 years (P=.01) and kidney amyloidosis (P=.05). When we compared males with females, sex had little effect on the disease pattern, severity, or the presence of ExRA and mortality.

Our findings may differ from those found in Western patients, which could be due to different human leukocyte antigen (HLA) associations with RA between Caucasian and other populations. RA in the Saudi population is associated with HLA DR10, while in Caucasians it was associated with HLA DR4 and HLA DR1.23

Because our study was retrospective, our analysis was limited to case-recorded data collected by the managing physician. On the other hand, the observations documented by the treating doctor reflected manifestations considered clinically relevant. We recommend further prospective studies to document the predictors for the development of the ExRA and outcome in our society. We recommended further research to ascertain the mortality rate in RA patients with and without ExRA and to define the individual risk factors associated with high mortality.

We have demonstrated that ExRA is present in a substantial proportion of a hospital-based sample and is generally associated with a worse disease outcome. Patients with ExRA have a high mortality rate, which could be related to the complication of the disease itself or the presence of other co-morbid illnesses. ExRA needs to be recognized and managed early to decrease the mortality rate.

1. Turesson C,McClelland RL,Christianson T,Matteson E. Clustering of extraarticular manifestations in patients with rheumatoid arthritisJ RheumatolYear: 2008Month: 1 3511798018176994
2. Al-Dalaan A,Al Ballaa S,Bahabri S,Biyari T,Al Sukait M,Mousa M. The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis in the Qassim region of Saudi ArabiaAnn Saudi MedYear: 1998Season: Sep?Oct 185396717344708
3. Hochberg MC,Johnston SS,John AK. The incidence and prevalence of extra-articular and systemic manifestations in a cohort of newly-diagnosed patients with rheumatoid arthritis between 1999 and 2006Curr Med Res OpinYear: 2008Month: 2 2424698018179735
4. Carmona L,Gonz?lez-Alvaro I,Balsa A,Angel Belmonte M,Tena X,Sanmart? R. Rheumatoid arthritis in Spain: occurrence of extra-articular manifestations and estimates of disease severityAnn Rheum DisYear: 20036289790012922967
5. Turesson C,O'Fallon WM,Crowson CS,Gabriel SE,Matteson EL. Occurrence of extraarticular disease manifestations is associated with excess mortality in a community based cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritisJ RheumatolYear: 2002Month: 1 29162711824973
6. Turesson C,W O'Fallon,Crowson C,Gabriel S,Matteson E. Extra-articular disease manifestations in rheumatoid arthritis: incidence trends and risk factors over 46 yearsAnn Rheum DisYear: 2003Month: 8 6287222712860726
7. Turesson C,Jacobsson L,Bergstr?m U,Truedsson L,Sturfelt G. Predictors of extra-articuular manifestations in rheumatoid arthritisScand J RheumatolYear: 20002963586411132204
8. Adam Young,Gouri Koduri. Extra-articular manifestations and complications of rheumatoid arthritisBest Pract Res Clin RheumatolYear: 2007Month: 10 2159072717870035
9. Bongartz T,Cantaert T,Atkins SR,Harle P,Myeers JL,Turesson C,Ryu JH,Baeten D,Matteson EL. Citrullination in extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritisRheumatol (Oxford)Year: 2007Month: 1 461705
10. Roudier J. HLA-DRB1 genes and extraartticular rheumatoid arthritisArthritis Res TherYear: 20068110316542468
11. Turesson C,Weyand CM,Matteson EL. Gennetics of rheumatoid arthritis: Is there a pattern predicting extraarticular manifestations?Arthrittis RheumYear: 2004Month: 10 Day: 15 51585363
12. Alarc?n GS. The influence of sex on the frequency of erosive disease and extraarticular manifestations in rheumatoid arthritis: comment on the article by Weyand et al [letter]Arthritis RheumYear: 1999Month: 3 42358789-9010088790
13. Gossec L,Baro-Riba J,Bozonnat MC,Daur?s JP,Sany J,Eliaou JF,Combe B. Influence of sex on disease severity in patients with rheumatoid arthritisJ RheumatolYear: 2005Month: 8 32814485116078318
14. Kinoshita M,Aotsuka S,Yokohari R. Cross-reactive rheumatoid factors in rheumatoid arthritis with extra-articular diseaseClin Exp ImmmunolYear: 1990Month: 1 791727
15. Calg?neri M,Ureten K,Akif Ozt?rk M,Onat AM,Ertenli I,Kiraz S,Akdogan A. Extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis: results of a university hospital of 526 patients in TurkeyClin Exp RheumatolYear: 2006Season: May?Jun 243305816870099
16. Turesson C,Jacobsson J,Bergstr?m U. Exttra-articular rheumatoid arthritis: prevalence and mortalityRheumatolYear: 1999Month: 7 38766874
17. Gabriel SE,Crowson CS,Kremers HM,Doran MF,Turesson C,O'Fallon WM,Matteson EL. Survival in rheumatoid arthritis: a population-based analysis of trends over 40 yearsArthritis RheumYear: 2003Month: 1 48154812528103
18. Lindqvist E,Saxne T,Geborek P,Eberhhardt K. Ten-year outcome in a cohort of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: health status, disease process, and damageAnn Rheum DisYear: 200261105515912429534
19. Arnett FC,Edworthy SM,Bloch DA,McShane DJ,Fries JF,Cooper NS,Healey LA,Kaplan SR,Liang MH,Luthra HS,et al. The American Rheummatism Association 1987 revised criteria for the classification of rheumatoid arthritisArthritis RheumYear: 1988Month: 3 313315243358796
20. Prevoo ML,van't Hof MA,Kuper HH,van Leeuwen MA,van de Putte LB,van Riel PL. Modified disease activity scores that include twenty-eight-joint countsArthritis RheumYear: 1995Month: 1 3814487818570
21. Adam Young,Gouri Koduri. Extra-articular manifestations and complications of rheumatoid arthritisBest Pract Res Clin RheumatolYear: 2007Month: 10 2159072717870035
22. Turesson C,McClelland RL,Christianson TJ,Matteson EL. No decrease over time in the incidence of vasculitis or other extraarticular manifestations in rheumatoid arthritis: results from a community-based studyArthritis RheumYear: 2004Month: 11 501137293115529357
23. Al-Arfaj AS. Characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis relative to HLA-DR in Saudi ArabiaSaudi Med JYear: 2001Month: 7 227595811479640

[TableWrap ID: T0001] Table 1 

Duration of the disease at the time of first presentation.

Number of years Number of patients (n=98) n (%) Sex (M:F) n (%) Mean (SD) age in years
<1 year 6 (6) 1:5 (17:83) 38 (15.3)
?1-5 years 25 (25) 7:18 (28:72) 38.5 (15.3)
>5-10 years 29 (30) 7:22 (24:76) 49.2 (13.3)
>10 years 38 (39) 9:29 (24:76) 51.3 (13.9)

[TableWrap ID: T0002] Table 2 

Main extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis.

Extra-articular manifestation Number of patients (n=98) n (%)
Pericardial effusion 1 (1)
Felty syndrome 1 (1)
Leg ulcer 2 (2)
Sjogren syndrome 2 (2)
Rheumatoid nodules 3 (3)
Carpal tunnel syndrome 3 (3)
Lymphadenopathy 4 (4)
Amyloidosis 6 (6)
Respiratory involvement 10 (10)
Anemia 60 (61)
?Normochromic normocytic 8
?Iron defeciency 52
Leukopenia 5 (5)
Thrombocytosis 16 (16)

[TableWrap ID: T0003] Table 3 

Associated co-morbidities in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Co-morbidity Number of patients (n=98) n (%)
Tuberculosis 6 (6)
Hypertension 5 (5)
Diabetes 4 (4)
Malignancy 3 (3)
Coronary artery disease 3 (3)
Cerebral vascular accident 2 (2)
Thrombosis 2 (2)

Article Categories:
  • Original Article

Previous Document:  Oral sucrose and a pacifier for pain relief during simple procedures in preterm infants: a randomize...
Next Document:  Cesarean delivery rates in Saudi Arabia: a ten-year review.