Ninety five patients receiving chronic haemodialysis (CHD) were surveyed to determine the prevalence of rheumatic disease and, where possible, its aetiology. At least three distinct rheumatic syndromes were identified--a group of patients with a syndrome consisting of large and medium joint synovial swelling, restricted hips and shoulders, tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and bone cysts due to deposition of beta 2 microglobulin related amyloid (AM beta 2m); a second group with erosive azotaemic osteoarthropathy; and a third group with age related degenerative disease of small, large, and axial joints. The data presented suggest that in patients receiving CHD (a) the prevalence of AM beta 2m deposition and the associated syndrome increases with duration of dialysis, but in patients who have been dialysed for more than 10 years the risk of developing AM beta 2m is related to age; (b) AM beta 2m deposition in subchondral cysts, but not synovium, causes joint destruction; also, AM beta 2m may be more prone to deposition in synovium of joints already damaged by other processes; (c) in the absence of synovial iron deposition synovial AM beta 2m is not associated with an inflammatory infiltrate; (d) hyperparathyroidism and perhaps other factors such as synovial iron deposition are probably more important than AM beta 2m as causes of peripheral joint degeneration and destructive spondyloarthropathy in patients receiving CHD.
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