Still’s Disease – 9/10/18

Thanks to Becky Lee yet again for presenting an interesting case of a young woman presenting with acute onset of fever and polyarthritis, found to have a history of similar episodes in the past together with a rash concerning for Still’s disease!

Clinical Pearls

  • Still’s disease is a diagnosis of exclusion!  Yamaguchi criteria can help with ruling in the diagnosis.
  • Still’s remains a multi-systemic disorder of unknown etiology because it’s difficult to diagnose and rare (0.16 cases per 100,000).
  • RF and ANA are generally negative but can be positive in <10% of patients with Still’s in low titers.
  • ~66% of patients present with sore throat secondary to cricothyroid perichondritis or aseptic nonexudative pharyngitis.
  • The disease is often recurrent.  Predictors of poor outcome include erosive polyarthritis on presentation and shoulder/hip involvement.

Acute polyarthritis (>5 joints involved):

Remember that for rheumatologic disorders, timing, symmetry, and number of joints involved is crucial to coming up with a differential diagnosis.  So for our patient with acute polyarthritis, consider the following:

  • Infection
    • Viral: hepatitis, HIV, parvovirus B19
    • Spontaneous bacterial endocarditis
  • Rheumatologic:
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Reactive arthritis
    • SLE
    • Dermatomyositis
  • Vasculitis
    • PAN
  • Drug reactions
  • Auto-inflammatory or disease of the innate immune system (as opposed to autoimmune or diseases of the adaptive immune system):
    • Periodic fever syndromes (TRAPS, PFAPA, hyper-IgD syndrome)
    • Still’s disease
  • Schnitzler’s syndrome – chronic urticaria associated with a monoclonal gammopathy (usually IgM kappa)
  • Sweet syndrome – painful skin lesions
  • Sarcoid
  • Kikuchi disease – cervical LAD and fever (necrotizing lymphadenitis)
  • HLH/Macrophage activation syndrome – leukopenia and thrombocytopenia, elevated triglycerides, low fibrinogen and haptoglobin

Still’s disease:

  • Some clarifications on nomenclature:
    • Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA): first presentation <17 years old, previously referred to as Still’s disease
    • Adult onset Still’s disease (AOSD): first presentation  > 17 years old
  • Epidemiology of AOSD:
    • 0.16 cases per 100,000
    • No sex predominance (F=M)
    • Bimodal age distribution with peak between 15-25 and another 36-46 years of age.  New diagnosis in patients >60 have been reported.
  • Clinical features ⇒ Yamaguchi criteria (need 5 total with  > 2 major)
    • Major criteria:
      • Daily fevers to 39
      • Arthritis >2 weeks
      • Non-pruritic salmon-colored macular/maculopapular rash on trunk or extremities (though cases of pruritic rash have also been reported)
      • ↑ WBC >10k, >80% neutrophils
    • Minor
      • Sore throat
      • LAD and/or splenomegaly
      • ↑ AST, ALT, or LDH
      • Negative ANA/RF
  • Treatment
    • Mild: NSAIDs
    • Moderate: NSAIDs + DMARDs
    • Severe: NSAIDs + DMARDs (IL1 receptor antagonists like anakinra appear to be more helpful than TNF inhibitors especially in sJIA)
  • Prognosis:
    • Overall good prognosis
    • Disease can be limited to one episode or recurrent over time
    • Poor prognostic indicators:
      • Hip and shoulder involvement
      • Erosive polyarthritis at initial diagnosis
  • Complications
    • Macrophage activation syndrome (ie HLH) can occur in 15% of cases
    • DIC
    • TTP
    • Diffuse alveolar hemorrhage
    • Pulmonary HTN
    • Aseptic meningitis


Great recent review article on Still’s disease (AOSD Review) and this prior post on our blog!

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