Introduction Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is not a benign disease. Additional morbidity may arise from prolonged administration of high doses of corticosteroids. No stringent response criteria have been established yet, however, they obviously seem to be of great importance for the quality of patient care and to compare alternative treatment modalities against the golden standard of steroid treatment as steroid sparing medications would be most desirable in PMR.
Patients and methods Patients from several European countries were enrolled into a study to validate existing diagnostic criteria for PMR as well as into the remission criteria study. Serological findings (ESR, CRP, haemoglobin, serum iron and alpha2-globuline) and clinical features (VAS pain, VAS physicians assessment, morning stiffness, elevation of upper limbs, myalgia, tenderness on pressure of upper/lower limbs, response time after initiation of steroids, head aches, swelling or tenderness of the temporal artery and masseter muscle claudication) were chosen for the characterisation of disease activity. After the initial examination patients were seen at week 1, 4, 8, 16, 24 and 32, study endpoint was at week 48. Starting dose and reduction of corticosteroids as well as co-medication was at the discretion of the local investigator. Patients found to have a disease other than PMR will be excluded from final analysis in the response criteria study.
Results As expected most of the patients responded well and quickly to steroid treatment. The results concerning the single response parameters will be given on date. Consisting of those criteria performing best a response score should be proposed. The efficacy of treatment may thus easily be reflected by a single figure.
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