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The Role of the Laboratory in the Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

1987 Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Slide 5

August 2011

In 1987, the American College of Rheumatology established a set of classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis. These criteria focused heavily on clinical symptoms.

The criteria included morning stiffness that lasted longer than 1 hour and arthritis of 3 or more joints, particularly the hand joints , that was accompanied by inflammation and swelling. In particular, symmetric arthritis was included as an important indicator of rheumatoid arthritis.

The presence of nodules was also an indication of the disease, as were radiographic changes that indicated the presence of erosions or boney decalcification.

The only laboratory test that was part of these criteria was rheumatoid factor.

Using these criteria, it was suggested that, if 4 out of the 7 features were present, then the patient could be classified as having rheumatoid arthritis. Although very useful, these criteria were limited in their ability to classify patients with early disease.

1987 Classification Criteria for RA


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