Objectives: Although RA patients achieve clinical remission, risk of flare still exists. Given the association between US synovitis and increased risk of flare, it is of clinical interest whether these patients report a different health status. Therefore, our aim was to evaluate the frequency of US remission in RA patients in clinical remission and to compare the health status of RA patients in clinical remission with those who were also in US remission.
Methods: In a prospective study, we included 89 RA patients (aged >17 years) treated with a synthetic DMARD and a TNF inhibitor who were in remission (DAS in 44 joints ⩽2.4 and swollen joint count ⩽1). Demographic characteristics, swollen and tender joints, laboratory variables, US (MCP2-5, PIP2-5, wrists and MTP2-5) and patient-reported outcomes (general health, functional ability, fatigue, depression and anxiety, pain and morning stiffness) were recorded at two consecutive visits (3 months apart). US remission was defined as grey scale grade ⩽1 and power Doppler = 0.
Results: At visit 1, 39% of patients were in US remission. At visit 2, 32% of patients were in US remission. At visit 1, functional ability (HAQ) was scored lower by patients in US remission (P = 0.029). At visit 2, HAQ scores were similar (P = 0.928). At visit 2, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety score and visual analog scale pain were significantly higher in patients in US remission. Similar levels were found for the other patient-reported outcomes.
Conclusion: One-third of RA patients in clinical remission were in US remission. In our study population, we could not find a clear association between health status of RA patients and being in US remission.