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Acute rheumatic fever and poststreptococcal reactive arthritis: diagnostic and treatment practices of pediatric subspecialists in Canada.

OBJECTIVE: We conducted a survey of pediatric specialists in rheumatology, cardiology, and infectious diseases to ascertain present Canadian clinical practice with respect to diagnosis and treatment of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and poststreptococcal reactive arthritis (PSReA), and to determine what variables influence the decision for or against prophylaxis in these cases.

METHODS: A questionnaire comprising 6 clinical case scenarios of acute arthritis occurring after recent streptococcal pharyngitis was sent to members of the Canadian Pediatric Rheumatology Association, and to heads of divisions of pediatric cardiology and pediatric infectious diseases at the 16 university affiliated centers across Canada.

RESULTS: There is considerable variability with respect to diagnosis in cases of ReA following group A streptococcal (GAS) infection both within and across specialties. There is extensive variability regarding the decision to provide prophylaxis in cases designated as ARF or PSReA. Findings indicated that physicians are most comfortable prescribing antibiotic prophylaxis in the presence of clear cardiac risk and are less inclined to such intervention for patients diagnosed with PSReA. When prophylaxis was recommended for cases of PSReA, the majority of respondents prescribed longer term courses of antibiotics.

CONCLUSION: The lack of observed consistency in diagnosis and treatment in cases of reactive arthritis post-GAS infection likely reflects the lack of universally accepted criteria for diagnosis of PSReA and insufficient longterm data regarding carditis risk within this population. There is a need for clear definitions and treatment guidelines to allow greater consistency in clinical practice across pediatric specialties.

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