What is the role of sulfasalazine in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy (USpA)?

Updated: Jul 17, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence H Brent, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Sulfasalazine is useful in AS patients who do not respond to or who have contraindications to NSAIDs, as well as in those with coexisting IBD. In particular, it is often given to treat peripheral joint involvement, for which it has demonstrated efficacy. Sulfasalazine reduces spinal stiffness, peripheral arthritis, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), but there is no evidence that it improves spinal mobility, enthesitis, or physical function. [97, 98, 99] In a randomized, double-blind study, treatment with sulfasalazine resulted in significantly lesser improvement when compared to treatment with the TNF inhibitor etanercept. [100] Sulfasalazine toxicities include rash, nausea, diarrhea, and agranulocytosis (rarely).


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