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20-02-2018 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Review | Article

Physical articular examination in the activity of rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review of the literature

Clinical Rheumatology

Authors: Yimy F. Medina, Rafael Eduardo Ruíz-Gaviria, Adriana Buitrago-Lopez, Catalina Villota

Publisher: Springer London


To summarize evidence concerning the articular examination needed to determine rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity (follow-up or control) via a systematic review. A search of Medline, Embase, Lilacs, SciELO, the Web of Science, the National Technical Reports Library, and the reference lists of relevant studies through March 2017 was conducted using a systematic methodology to identify studies of patients with RA older than 18 years in which a detailed description of the physical examination or a description of the components of the articular examination was provided. Of 8322 references, 74 studies were included according to the selection criteria, and 6 references were ultimately included at the end of the review. Most of the included studies (n = 5) were associated with a moderate risk of bias. There was great variability among the studies and the articular examination methods used. Some studies presented the examination with a complete specification of the technique (n = 2), the consensus of rheumatologists (n = 2), or training through audiovisual materials and face-to-face courses (n = 2), but none of the studies explicitly showed the technique by which the physical examination was performed. Despite the importance of the clinical evaluation and physical examination of patients with RA for diagnosis, prognosis, clinimetrics, and follow-up, evidence concerning how to perform the articular examination is scarce.

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