Which physical findings suggest juvenile ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?

Updated: Feb 02, 2021
  • Author: Lawrence H Brent, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Enthesitis is prominent early in the course of the disease, while spinal symptoms and limitation of motion may not be present until several years later. Peripheral arthritis, especially in the lower extremities, and dactylitis are more common in children than in adults. Systemic manifestations (eg, fever, weight loss, anemia, leukocytosis) occur at disease onset in children more frequently than in adults.

Initial radiography findings of the sacroiliac regions and spine are often normal or difficult to interpret in children. These factors make a definitive diagnosis of AS difficult in children. In such cases, the presence of HLA-B27 would be supportive of the diagnosis of a spondyloarthropathy.

Some children exhibit a syndrome of seronegativity, enthesopathy, and arthropathy (SEA) that is clinically similar to USpA. These children often develop AS over time, with typical radiographic changes, usually by early adulthood. A variant, ankylosing tarsitis, is described in children who present with enthesitis in the tarsal region. This can lead to ossification, which results in a characteristic radiographic appearance. When tarsal inflammation is part of the clinical picture in a child or adult, strongly consider one of the spondyloarthropathies.

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