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Tweaking withdrawal of rheumatoid arthritis medications before surgeries may reduce disease flares
Date:11/5/2011

As guidelines recommend, doctors appear to be stopping anti-TNF medications before surgery, but may be doing so far sooner than is necessary, according to a new study by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery. These medications are used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, and better timing of withdrawal prior to surgery might minimize the risk of disease flares.

"We need to do more studies to see if more pharmacologically-based timing of when you hold these medicationsmaybe tie it more to their half lifemight potentially decrease rates of postoperative flares," said Lisa Mandl, M.D. MPH, a rheumatologist at HSS. She is principal investigator of the study that will be presented on Nov. 8 at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting.

Anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) medications are increasingly being used in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) due to their effectiveness. Because these medications suppress the immune system, guidelines recommend stopping anti-TNF therapy before any type of surgery. Few studies, however, have examined what happens in actual practice or the effect of stopping medications on patients.

To investigate the issue in knee replacement surgery, a common surgery in RA patients, researchers utilized data from the HSS Total Joint Replacement Registry. This prospective registry started in 2007 includes, among other things, data on all patients who seek care at HSS for a total knee replacement (TKR). "Other institutions may have similar registries, but we do such a high volume of surgeries that other people might take decades to get what we do in a few years. We have large numbers and it is a contemporary registry, so it's not 10,000 patients over the last 20 years. It is 20,000 over the last five years," Dr. Mandl said. The database gives doctors a snapshot of what is happening in present day practice.

Through a retrospective chart review
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Contact: Phyllis Fisher
phyllis.fisher@gmail.com
212-606-1197
Hospital for Special Surgery
Source:Eurekalert

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