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HEAD-US system shows promise for assessing joint bleeding



Results from a prospective study appear to confirm the utility of the Haemophilia Early Arthropathy Detection by UltraSound (HEAD‐US) scoring system to evaluate joint bleeding rates in patients with hemophilia A who are treated exclusively with secondary or tertiary prophylaxis.

HEAD-US showed a strong correlation with the joint bleeding rate over a 3 year period for ankles and knees, but not for elbows.

“Primary prophylaxis is considered the most effective regimen in preventing arthropathy formation. However, due to social and economic reasons, a considerable number of children and young adults with haemophilia worldwide are currently treated by secondary or tertiary prophylaxis,” Atanas Banchev, MD, of University Hospital Tsaritsa Giovanna – ISUL, Bulgaria, and colleagues, wrote in a letter to the editor in Haemophilia. “Due to its wide availability and low cost, the sonographic score Haemophilia Early Arthropathy Detection by UltraSound (HEAD‐US) has recently become an attractive tool for assessment of joint status.”

The researchers conducted a prospective study of 42 patients with moderate to severe hemophilia A. The patients were treated with secondary or tertiary prophylaxis for a minimum of 5 years and had no history of inhibitors or factor VIII inhibitor antibodies.

The team collected data on patient demographics, disease characteristics, and prophylactic therapy. Patients were assessed at regular intervals at various treatment facilities throughout Bulgaria.

The scoring was based on three markers: synovitis (score 0‐2), cartilage (score 0‐4) and subchondral bone (score of 0‐2) with a maximum score of eight points per joint, according to the researchers.

A total of 250 joints were evaluated via the HEAD‐US scoring system. Dr. Banchev and colleagues reported that articular damage was present in 34% (n = 85) of joints evaluated with the tool. No defects were detected in the remaining joints (n = 165).

Mean HEAD‐US scores for each specific joint were 2.2 (range 0‐8) for ankles, 0.96 (range 0‐8) for knees, and 0.73 (range 0‐6) for elbows.

The researchers reported a strong correlation between the assessed joint bleeding rates for 3 years and the corresponding HEAD-US scores in ankles and knees. For ankles, the Spearman’s correlation coefficient was 0.545 (P less than .001) and for knees it was 0.692 (P less than .001).

They found no statistically significant correlation between the HEAD-US score and the assessed joint bleeding rates for 3 years in elbows (coefficient 0.161, P = .143).

One key limitation of the study was the nonconsideration of therapeutic compliance in the outcome assessment.

No funding sources were reported. The authors reported having no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Banchev A et al. Haemophilia. 2019 May 27. doi: 10.1111/hae.13771.

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