Treatment and monitoring of SAPHO syndrome: A systematic review

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.


Background and objectives Synovitis acne pustulosis hyperostosis osteitis (SAPHO) is a rare heterogeneous disease of unknown aetiopathology. Externally validated and internationally agreed diagnostic criteria or outcomes and, as a result, prospective randomised controlled trials in SAPHO are absent. Consequently, there is no agreed treatment standard. This study aimed to systematically collate and discuss treatment options in SAPHO. Methods Following ‘Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses’ guidance, a systematic literature search was conducted using PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science databases. Prospective clinical studies and retrospective case collections discussing management and outcomes in SAPHO involving five or more participants were included. Articles not published in English, studies not reporting defined outcomes, and studies solely relying on patient-reported outcomes were excluded. Results A total of 28 studies (20 observational, 8 open-label clinical studies) reporting 796 patients of predominantly European ethnicity were included. Reported therapies varied greatly, with many centres using multiple treatments in parallel. Most patients (37.1%) received non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs alone or in combination. Bisphosphonates (22.1%), conventional (21.7%) and biological (11.3%) disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs were the next most frequently reported treatments. Reported outcomes varied and delivered mixed results, which complicates comparisons. Bisphosphonates demonstrated the most consistent improvement of osteoarticular symptoms and were associated with transient influenza-like symptoms. Paradoxical skin reactions were reported in patients treated with TNF inhibitors, but no serious adverse events were recorded. Most treatments had limited or mixed effects on cutaneous involvement. A recent study investigating the Janus kinase inhibitor tofacitinib delivered promising results in relation to skin and nail involvement. Conclusions No single currently available treatment option sufficiently addresses all SAPHO-associated symptoms. Variable, sometimes descriptive outcomes and the use of treatment combinations complicate conclusions and treatment recommendations. Randomised clinical trials are necessary to generate reliable evidence.

Author supplied keywords




Li, S. W. S., Roberts, E., & Hedrich, C. (2023, December 26). Treatment and monitoring of SAPHO syndrome: A systematic review. RMD Open. BMJ Publishing Group.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free