What is the prognosis of reactive arthritis (ReA)?

Updated: Dec 24, 2020
  • Author: Carlos J Lozada, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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ReA has a variable natural history [60] but typically follows a self-limited course, with resolution of symptoms by 3-12 months, even in patients who are acutely incapacitated. A fatal outcome is seldom reported, but death can occur, and it is usually related to the adverse effects of treatment. Postdysenteric cases are associated with a better prognosis than postvenereal cases. The presence of HLA-B27 may predict a more prolonged course and severe outcome, as may infections triggered by Yersinia, Salmonella, Shigella, or Chlamydia. [66]

ReA has a high tendency to recur (15-50% of cases), particularly in individuals who are HLA-B27–positive. A new infection or other stress factor could cause reactivation of the disease.

Approximately 15-30% of patients with ReA develop a long-term, sometimes destructive, arthritis or enthesitis or spondylitis. A 1994 study analyzed 7 factors as predictors of long-term outcome in spondyloarthropathies. [67] The number of patients with ReA in this study was low, and a valid subgroup analysis was impossible. The presence of hip-joint involvement, an ESR higher than 30, and unresponsiveness to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) probably portend a severe outcome or chronicity in ReA.

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