Objective. To develop adapted versions of the Sharp/van der Heijde radiographic scoring system for use in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), and to investigate their validity in JIA patients with polyarticular disease. Methods. The study group comprised 177 patients with polyarticular JIA. Radiographs of the wrist/hand of each patient were obtained at baseline (first observation) and then at 1, 3, 5, 7/8, and 10 years and were assessed independently by 2 pediatric rheumatologists according to different adaptations of the Sharp/van der Heijde method. To facilitate score assignment, the radiograph for each patient was compared with a bone age-related standard. Validation procedures included analysis of reliability, construct validity, and score progression over time. Results. Interobserver and intraobserver agreement on longitudinal score values and score changes was good for all of the adapted scoring versions (intraclass correlation coefficient >0.85). Score changes over time were moderately to strongly correlated with the clinical indicators of long-term joint damage and with the amount of long-term radiographic damage as measured with the carpo:metacarpal ratio, thereby demonstrating good construct validity. A steady increase in scores over time was observed, with joint space narrowing being the most common form of damage throughout the disease course. The inclusion of 5 new areas appeared to increase the overall construct validity of erosion scores. Conclusion. Our results show that the adapted versions of the Sharp/van der Heijde score are reliable and valid for the assessment of radiographic progression in patients with JIA.
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