Extensor tendon rupture in rheumatoid arthritis: a survey of patients between 2005 and 2010 at five Korean hospitals

Hyun Sik Gong, Joon Oh Lee, Goo Hyun Baek, Byung Sung Kim, Jin Young Kim, Jae Seong Lee, Choel Ho Song
Hand Surgery 2012, 17 (1): 43-7

BACKGROUND: Recent medical advancements in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can prevent joint damage and tendon involvement. The authors evaluated patterns of extensor tendon ruptures in RA patients that presented to hand surgeons over a recent five-year period.

METHODS: Medical records and radiographs were retrospectively reviewed, and telephone interviews were conducted with 38 patients that had experienced extensor tendon ruptures in a rheumatoid hand during the study period and were operated on at one of five tertiary referral hospitals in South Korea. Patterns of tendon ruptures were compared in patients that did or did not receive medical treatment.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine of the 38 patients (76%) had tendon ruptures in more than two digits. When multiple digits were involved, mean duration between first and latest rupture was 2.9 months. When patients treated with medications by rheumatologists (24 patients) were compared with those not treated (14 patients), no significant differences were found for; number of ruptured tendons, time from first to last rupture, disease duration, or radiographic RA severity.

CONCLUSIONS: RA patients who once experienced a tendon rupture are still at risk of sequential tendon ruptures despite recent advancement of medical treatment. Education of the risks of sequential tendon ruptures and timely consultation to hand surgeons continue to be necessary in RA patients.

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