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Diagnostic Value of Oral Prednisolone Test for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Information source: Rheumazentrum Ruhrgebiet
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Intervention: Prednisolone (Drug)

Phase: Phase 2/Phase 3

Status: Completed

Sponsored by: Rheumazentrum Ruhrgebiet

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Juergen Braun, MD, Principal Investigator, Affiliation: Rheumazentrum Ruhrgebiet, Herne, Germany


Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease often leading to progressive joint destruction. To prevent disability caused by inflamed joints early diagnosis is important. Early diagnosis might be a challenge because the diagnosis is mostly based on clinical signs like swelling of small joints. In clinical practice a therapy with prednisolone is started although the patients do not have an exact diagnosis. In this cases the prednisolone might serve as a diagnostic test for an inflammatory process. The objective of this study is to investigate the diagnostic value of oral prednisolone test for rheumatoid arthritis.

Clinical Details

Official title: Phase II/III Study of Oral Prednisolone Test in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Study design: Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Diagnostic

Primary outcome:

Rate of true diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis after positive prednisolone test

Rate of true negative diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis after positive prednisolone test

Negative predictive value

Positive predictive value

Secondary outcome:

clinical characteristics of patients with early RA

change of disease activity

change of functioning

Detailed description: Rheumatoid arthritis is with a prevalence of 2% an important inflammatory joint disease which often leads to impaired functioning and reduced quality of life. Early diagnosis is an important step forward to prevent progressive joint destruction. The classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis published in 2010 are based on clinical signs (such as swelling) and laboratory findings (such as rheumatoid factor) (Aletaha D 2010). Because its diagnosis is based on clinical signs the early diagnosis for rheumatoid arthritis might be a challenge in daily clinical care. In clinical practice a therapy with prednisolone is started although the patients do not have an exact diagnosis. It has been shown that the start of early low-dose prednisolone decreases the rate of joint destruction after two years of therapy (Kirwan JR 1995, Wassenberg S 2005). Thus, prednisolone might have effects comparable to that of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. The objective of this study is to investigate the diagnostic value of oral prednisolone test for rheumatoid arthritis. The hypothesis is that in patients with rheumatoid arthritis the prednisolone test will be positive in 80% of the patients whereas positive in just 20% of patients with osteoarthritis of the hand. Positive prednisolone test is defined as a 30% improvement of the symptoms in finger and wrist on a numeric rating scale from 0-100. Patients with suspicious of rheumatoid arthritis will undergo a prednisolone test with 20 mg per day for 3 days after 2 days of therapy with paracetamol 500 mg twice. After this period the patients will be asked to rate their benefit in improving pain and reducing swelling of wrist and finger joints on a numeric rating scale (0-100 % improvement in steps of 20%). A positive response In addition, demographics and clinical parameter including the compound measure for disease activity DAS-28 will be collected. A patient with a positive prednisolone test will receive standard care for rheumatoid arthritis onward. Patients with a negative prednisolone test will receive standard care for hand and finger osteoarthritis onward. At week 12 all patients will be seen again to reassess the former diagnosis.


Minimum age: 18 Years. Maximum age: N/A. Gender(s): Both.


Inclusion Criteria:

- pain in wrist and fingers without known diagnosis since more than 6 weeks, minimum of

pain on a numerical rating scale 4 (out of 10) Exclusion Criteria:

- rheumatoid arthritis

- psoriatic arthritis

- psoriasis vulgaris

- vasculitis

- gouty arthritis

- Current glucocorticoidmedication

Locations and Contacts

Rheumazentrum Ruhrgebiet, Herne 44652, Germany
Additional Information

Related publications:

Aletaha D, Neogi T, Silman AJ, Funovits J, Felson DT, Bingham CO 3rd, Birnbaum NS, Burmester GR, Bykerk VP, Cohen MD, Combe B, Costenbader KH, Dougados M, Emery P, Ferraccioli G, Hazes JM, Hobbs K, Huizinga TW, Kavanaugh A, Kay J, Kvien TK, Laing T, Mease P, Ménard HA, Moreland LW, Naden RL, Pincus T, Smolen JS, Stanislawska-Biernat E, Symmons D, Tak PP, Upchurch KS, Vencovský J, Wolfe F, Hawker G. 2010 Rheumatoid arthritis classification criteria: an American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism collaborative initiative. Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Sep;62(9):2569-81. doi: 10.1002/art.27584.

Wassenberg S, Rau R, Steinfeld P, Zeidler H. Very low-dose prednisolone in early rheumatoid arthritis retards radiographic progression over two years: a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Nov;52(11):3371-80.

Kirwan JR. The effect of glucocorticoids on joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis. The Arthritis and Rheumatism Council Low-Dose Glucocorticoid Study Group. N Engl J Med. 1995 Jul 20;333(3):142-6.

Starting date: February 2012
Last updated: May 15, 2015

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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