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Performance of the ASAS classification criteria for axial and peripheral spondyloarthritis: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis
  1. Alexandre Sepriano1,2,
  2. Roxana Rubio1,
  3. Sofia Ramiro1,
  4. Robert Landewé3,4,
  5. Désirée van der Heijde1
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
  2. 2NOVA Medical School, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
  3. 3Department of Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology, Amsterdam Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology Center (ARC), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Zuyderland Medical Center, Heerlen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alexandre Rocha Sepriano, Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Rheumatology, Albinusdreef 2, P.O. Box 9600, Leiden 2300 RC, The Netherlands; alexsepriano{at}


Objective To summarise the evidence on the performance of the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) classification criteria for axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) (also imaging and clinical arm separately), peripheral (p)SpA and the entire set, when tested against the rheumatologist's diagnosis (‘reference standard’).

Methods A systematic literature review was performed to identify eligible studies. Raw data on SpA diagnosis and classification were extracted or, if necessary, obtained from the authors of the selected publications. A meta-analysis was performed to obtain pooled estimates for sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios, by fitting random effects models.

Results Nine papers fulfilled the inclusion criteria (N=5739 patients). The entire set of the ASAS SpA criteria yielded a high pooled sensitivity (73%) and specificity (88%). Similarly, good results were found for the axSpA criteria (sensitivity: 82%; specificity: 88%). Splitting the axSpA criteria in ‘imaging arm only’ and ‘clinical arm only’ resulted in much lower sensitivity (30% and 23% respectively), but very high specificity was retained (97% and 94% respectively). The pSpA criteria were less often tested than the axSpA criteria and showed a similarly high pooled specificity (87%) but lower sensitivity (63%).

Conclusions Accumulated evidence from studies with more than 5500 patients confirms the good performance of the various ASAS SpA criteria as tested against the rheumatologist's diagnosis.

  • Spondyloarthritis
  • Epidemiology
  • Outcomes research

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  • Handling editor Tore K Kvien

  • Contributors Study concept and design: AS, SR, RL and DvdH. Data collection: AS and RR. Statistical analysis and data interpretation: AS, SR, RR, RL and DvdH. All authors revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version to be published. AS prepared the first version of the manuscript.

  • Funding AS received a research grant from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (grant number: SFRH/BD/108246/2015).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.