Intraarticular corticosteroid injection in the management of children with chronic arthritis

S Padeh, J H Passwell
Arthritis and Rheumatism 1998, 41 (7): 1210-4

OBJECTIVE: Intraarticular (IA) corticosteroid injection is a common therapeutic approach in the management of adult rheumatoid arthritis. This study examined the safety and efficacy of IA corticosteroid injection in 71 patients with juvenile arthritis who were being seen at the Sheba Medical Center during the years 1991-1996.

METHODS: Sixty-one patients fulfilled the American College of Rheumatology revised criteria for the diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), 6 patients had reactive arthritis, and 4 patients had various other arthritic conditions. The mean +/- SD age was 9.4 +/- 5.6 years (range 0.5-18 years); 47 were female (mean age 8.1 +/- 5.5 years) and 24 were male (mean age 10.8 +/- 5.4 years). A total of 300 joints were injected with triamcinolone hexacetonide. The most common sites of injection were the knees (124 injections), ankles (71 injections), wrists (46 injections), shoulders (10 injections), and elbows (7 injections). Children under the age of 6 (n = 17), or older children who received more than 4 joint injections at one time (n = 10) were sedated with either ketamine HCI or propofol. All other children received their joint injections under local anesthesia.

RESULTS: Full remission of the joint inflammation lasting >6 months following injection was achieved in 246 of the 300 injections (82.0%). In 54 (18.0%) of the injected joints, the inflammation recurred within 6 months of injection. In patients with pauciarticular arthritis, 115 of 141 injections (81.6%) resulted in full remission. Discontinuation of all oral medications was accomplished in 43 patients (60.6%) of the total group of 71 patients and in 32 of the 43 patients with pauciarticular disease (74.4%). Correction of joint contraction was achieved in 42 children (55 joints). In all 11 patients with Baker's cyst and in 12 patients with tenosynovitis, complete remission was achieved following injection. No infection or other serious complications occurred in any of the patients following the procedure.

CONCLUSION: IA corticosteroid joint injection in children with juvenile arthritis is a safe and effective mode of therapy. It may be the only therapy needed in patients with pauciarticular JRA, obviating the need for prolonged oral medications, and is effective in correcting joint contractions and deformities.

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