Felty Syndrome Clinical Presentation
- Author: Richard M Keating, MD, FACR, FACP; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD more...
Many years of aggressive destructive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) precede the onset of Felty syndrome (FS). On occasion, RA and FS develop simultaneously. The extra-articular manifestations of RA (eg, rheumatoid nodules, pleuropericarditis, vasculitis, peripheral neuropathy, episcleritis, other forms of eye involvement, Sjögren syndrome, adenopathy, skin ulcers) are more common in patients who develop FS.
Patients with FS often report current symptoms of mild inflammatory joint disease caused by synovitis. The history, however, usually reveals a long preceding period of active and aggressive joint disease, which can be confirmed by means of physical examination and plain radiography. Some patients present with quiescent or so-called “burned-out” joint disease. A lack of synovitis or active joint disease should not dissuade the clinician from considering the diagnosis of FS.
Patients with FS commonly present with bacterial infections of the skin and respiratory tract. An aggressive level of immunosuppression directed at the underlying RA may contribute to the susceptibility to infection.
Patients may present with left upper quadrant pain, initiated by splenic infarcts or capsular distension.
Physical findings in FS include the following:
Splenomegaly, possibly nonpalpable
Hepatomegaly, usually mild
Articular findings of long-standing RA – Joint deformities typical of RA, as well as synovitis (joint swelling and tenderness), which may be mild at presentation
Small-vessel inflammation (vasculitis) – Lower-extremity ulcers, palpable purpura and brownish pigmentary changes of the lower extremities, and periungual infarcts
Signs of systemic vasculitis – Mononeuritis multiplex and extremity ischemia
Other findings – Pleuritis, peripheral neuropathy, episcleritis, and signs of portal hypertension
Felty AR. Chronic arthritis in the adult associated with splenomegaly and leukopenia. Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp. 1924. 35:16.
Burks EJ, Loughran TP Jr. Pathogenesis of neutropenia in large granular lymphocyte leukemia and Felty syndrome. Blood Rev. 2006 Sep. 20(5):245-66. [Medline].
Hellmich B, Csernok E, Schatz H, et al. Autoantibodies against granulocyte colony-stimulating factor in Felty's syndrome and neutropenic systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Sep. 46(9):2384-91. [Medline].
Campion G, Maddison PJ, Goulding N, James I, Ahern MJ, Watt I, et al. The Felty syndrome: a case-matched study of clinical manifestations and outcome, serologic features, and immunogenetic associations. Medicine (Baltimore). 1990 Mar. 69(2):69-80. [Medline].
Gridley G, Klippel JH, Hoover RN, et al. Incidence of cancer among men with the Felty syndrome. Ann Intern Med. 1994 Jan 1. 120(1):35-9. [Medline].
Brücker R, Schlumpf U. [Felty syndrome: a therapy-resistant variant of chronic rheumatoid arthritis? 2 case reports and literature review]. Praxis (Bern 1994). 1996 Apr 16. 85(16):534-40. [Medline].
Ghavami A, Genevay S, Fulpius T, et al. Etanercept in treatment of Felty's syndrome. Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 Jul. 64(7):1090-1. [Medline].
Talip F, Walker N, Khan W, et al. Treatment of Felty's syndrome with leflunomide. J Rheumatol. 2001 Apr. 28(4):868-70. [Medline].
Ishikawa K, Tsukada Y, Tamura S, et al. Salazosulfapyridine-induced remission of Felty's syndrome along with significant reduction in neutrophil-bound immunoglobulin G. J Rheumatol. 2003 Feb. 30(2):404-6. [Medline].
Sordet C, Gottenberg JE, Hellmich B, et al. Lack of efficacy of rituximab in Felty's syndrome. Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 Feb. 64(2):332-3. [Medline].
Chandra PA, Margulis Y, Schiff C. Rituximab is useful in the treatment of Felty's syndrome. Am J Ther. 2008 Jul-Aug. 15(4):321-2. [Medline].
Weinreb N, Rabinowitz A, Dellaripa PF. Beneficial response to rituximab in refractory Felty Syndrome. J Clin Rheumatol. 2006 Feb. 12(1):48. [Medline].
Tomi AL, Lioté F, Ea HK. One case of Felty's syndrome efficiently treated with rituximab. Joint Bone Spine. 2012 Mar 6. [Medline].
Narváez J, Domingo-Domenech E, Gómez-Vaquero C, López-Vives L, Estrada P, Aparicio M, et al. Biological agents in the management of Felty's syndrome: a systematic review. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Apr. 41(5):658-68. [Medline].