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Posts Tagged ‘jones criteria’

The pericarditis  of acute rheumatic fever is not a true infective pericarditis.It is more of inflammation .It is primarily  T cell mediated  reaction . Neutrophils rarely take part  in this inflammation and hence  no significant  exudation . Hence , there is less  sticky and adhesive molecules inside the pericardial space .The most inflamed layer is epicardium which a nothing but visceral  pericardium .This layer lacks the tensile strength to constrict the underlying myocardium.

why rheumatic pericarditis does not go for constrictionFor constriction to occur the fibrinous  ( thick ) layer of pericardium need to be involved . In rheumatic fever  even though it is  pancarditis ,  fibrous layer is not  involved. Further the inflammatory gradient is thought to spread from within  (Unlike tuberculosis )

Note :  In chronic tuberculous pericarditis,  diffuse inflammatory process  invade from the exterior surface . Very often ,  one can not differentiate  layers. In extreme cases even myocardium and pericardium can not be separated .

Summary

The peri-cardial effusion of acute rheumatic fever

  1. Is transient ,non infective and resolving (Unlike valvular inflammation !)
  2. Less of neutrophil activation  (Less adhesion)
  3. It does not involve the thick , tensile  fibrous layer of pericardium hence lacks the contractile force .

Other lingering  questions

1.How common is tamponade  in acute rheumatic fever ?

2.How important is the mass of the effusion (Viz  a Viz  Intra pericardial pressure !) in causing tamponade ?

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Acute rheumatic fever classically involves large   joints of lower or upper limbs  referred to as  fleeting migratory polyarthritis .But this pattern is  not  exclusive.  In fact   acute rheumatic  fever commonly  present with atypical features .The incidence can be up to 25 % in various series .The most surprising thing is ,  it can involve spinal as well as hip joints . Mono arthritis is also possible.

The only contention is , atypical features are  frequently  labelled by  some  as post streptococal reactive arthritis instead of rheumatic fever .

It is  pure  semantics at play . Whether you agree with the terminology or not  ,  never hesitate to diagnose rheumatic fever when the  joint involvement is  atypical . If  you ignore this  you are bound to  be guilty  for damaging few hearts  later.

What are the unusual joint involvement in acute rheumatic fever  ?

  • Small joints of the feet
  • Small joints of the hands
  • Cervical spine
  • Wrist
  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Thoracic  spine
  • Calcaneus
  • Lumbar spine

The involvement of above joint can be up  to 25%

Here is an excellent paper from Brazil about the huge variation in the pattern of joint involvement in acute rheumatic fever.

http://www.jped.com.br/conteudo/00-76-01-49/ing.pdf

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