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Spondylitis Association of America Research Article Archive

Health research has high value to society. It can provide important information about disease trends and risk factors, outcomes of treatment, functional abilities, patterns of care, and health care costs and use. The different approaches to research provide complementary insights. Clinical trials can provide important information about the efficacy and adverse effects of medical interventions by controlling the variables that could impact the results of the study, but feedback from real-world clinical experience is also crucial for comparing and improving the use of drugs, vaccines, medical devices, and diagnostics.

Below you will find links to some of the studies that have contributed to our increased understanding of spondyloarthritis.

SAA receives no government funding and relies on the generous donations from individuals to create and maintain the programs and services aimed at improving the futures of the 2.7 million Americans affected by spondylitis.

Research Article Archive

Physical Therapy and Surgery

Rafael Valle-Onate, MD, Michael M. Ward, MD and Gail S. Kerr, MD


Physical therapy and orthopedic surgery are important components in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Supervised physical therapy is more effective than individual or unsupervised exercise in improving symptoms, but controlled trials suggest that combined inpatient and outpatient therapy provides the greatest improvement. Recommendations for exercise are universal, but the best types and sequence of therapies are not known. Total hip replacement is the surgery most commonly performed for AS, with good long-term implant survival. Heterotopic ossification may occur no more frequently after hip replacement in patients with AS than in patients with other diseases. Corrective spinal surgery is rarely performed and requires specialized centers and experienced surgeons.

Sensitivity and Specificity of Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Axial Spondyloarthritis

Ulrich Weber, MD, Walter P. Maksymowych, MD


Diagnosing spondyloarthritis (SpA) early in young patients with inflammatory back pain and normal findings on radiographs of the sacroiliac joints (SIJ) remains a challenge in routine practice. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is regarded as the most sensitive imaging modality for detecting early SpA before the radiographic appearance of structural lesions. The recently published Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society classification criteria for axial SpA include for the first time a positive MRI demonstrating sacroiliitis as an imaging criterion indicative of SpA together with at least 1 clinical feature of SpA. A systematic and standardized evaluation of the SIJ in patients with SpA showed that MRI has much greater diagnostic utility than documented previously and allowed a data-driven definition of a positive MRI for SpA. Single MRI lesions suggestive of inflammation can be found in the SIJ and the spine in up to one quarter of healthy controls and young patients with mechanical back pain.

Structural Bone Changes in Spondyloarthritis: Mechanisms, Clinical Impact and Therapeutic Considerations

Georg Schett, MD


Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is an inflammatory disease of the spine, the peripheral joints and the entheses and shares some clinical features with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Chronic inflammation of musculoskeletal structures leads to disease symptoms such as pain and stiffness and structural changes in the bone tissue. Furthermore, therapies for SpA are based on those for RA, which attempt to inhibit synovial inflammation that leads to retardation or even arrest of structural damage. However, in SpA, the bone tissue directly exposed to inflammation (osteitis) is the trabecular bone of the vertebrae, but not the cortical bone surface as in RA (synovitis). Therefore, the success of treatment strategies for structural changes in RA may not be appropriate for SpA. In this article, the authors discuss the pathophysiology of structural damage in SpA and concepts for the preservation of the physiologic bone architecture in patients with SpA.


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