Bone & joints


Systemic lupus erythematosus

Last author update: 1 May 2013
Last staff update: 26 January 2022

Copyright: 2002-2024,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Systemic lupus erythematosus [title] joints loattrfree full text[sb]

Vijay Shankar, M.D.
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Cite this page: Shankar V. Systemic lupus erythematosus. website. Accessed April 14th, 2024.
Definition / general
  • Autoimmune disease that usually presents with mild arthritis or joint effusions
  • Destructive joint disease is rare except for those on steroid therapy who rarely can develop aseptic necrosis
  • Occasionally there is a progression to rheumatoid-like nonerosive hand deformities (Jaccoud syndrome) (Rheum Dis Clin North Am 1988;14:99, Ann Rheum Dis 1974;33:204)
  • Synovial fluid shows less inflammation than rheumatoid arthritis
Clinical images

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Correctable swan neck deformities and ulnar deviation

Readily correctable swan neck deformities and subluxation of right fifth MCP

Metacarpal heads - no cartilage damage seen

Noncorrectable deformities of PIP joints

Mild ulnar deviation, especially on right

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Changes resemble rheumatoid arthritis but with more intense surface fibrin deposition and less synovial proliferation and less intense inflammation
  • Occasional vasculitis can be seen (Ann Intern Med 1971;74:911)
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Synovial membrane

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