Looking into the new ASAS classification criteria for axial spondyloarthritis through the other side of the glass.Curr Rheumatol Rep 2015; 17(6):515CR
The new concept of axial spondylitis (axSpA) and the Assessment of Spondyloarthritis International Society (ASAS) classification criteria for axSpA have induced new clinical research that has broadened our understanding of spondyloarthritis (SpA) and has had indeed a positive impact on earlier diagnosis and treatment of patients with axSpA who have not yet developed radiographic sacroiliitis. The primary goal of any valid classification criteria for any disease is to provide a homogeneous study population with a common etiopathogenesis, similar prognosis, and similar response to identical treatment. Without such a homogeneous study population, robust clinical and basic science research in any subtype of SpA is not possible. All criteria are dynamic concepts that need updating as our knowledge advances and our review of the ASAS classification criteria of axSpA indicates that complex multi-selection design and unclear (not mutually exclusive) definitions of the imaging and clinical arms of the criteria results in patient heterogeneity across study populations. Therefore, there is a need to improve the validity of the ASAS criteria for axSpA. It is our opinion that in the meantime, the clinically well-established entity of AS, as defined by the modified New York (mNY) criteria, should be preserved for the most accurate comparison of the new research studies with those conducted over the last three decades, and that the use of the ASAS criteria should be restricted to patients with nr-axSpA, who are not recognized by the mNY criteria.