BMJ Case Reports 2011; doi:10.1136/bcr.11.2011.5197
  • Rare disease

The dark side of SAPHO syndrome

  1. Nuno Riso
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, Curry Cabral Hospital, Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Celia Coelho Henriques, celia.c.henriques{at}


SAPHO syndrome (synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis and osteitis) is a relatively rare entity. The therapeutic approach of patients with SAPHO syndrome has included multiple drugs with varying success and incoherence responses. The therapy is still empirical today. SAPHO syndrome is commonly treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, bisphophonates and non-biologic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs. Recent reports showed successful treatment with tumour necrosis factor α (TNF α) antagonists, but there is still a dark side of SAPHO syndrome including a subgroup of patient’s refractory to all the treatments that have been empirically experienced. A clinical report of a patient with SAPHO syndrome with 12 years of evolution is described. All the therapeutic approaches, including anti TNF α therapy, have not prevented the clinical and radiographic progression of the disease. Given that the disease affects mostly younger patients, new therapeutic strategies are necessary in order to avoid potentially irreversible joint and bone lesions.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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