Felty’s syndrome

Definition
Felty’s syndrome is a disorder characterized by rheumatoid arthritis, an enlarged spleen, a decreased white blood cell count, and recurrent infection.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of Felty’s syndrome is unknown. It is a variant of rheumatoid arthritis and is more common in people who have had rheumatoid arthritis for a long time. People with this syndrome suffer from an increased incidence of infection associated with a low white blood cell count.

Symptoms

     
  • General feeling of discomfort (malaise)  
  • Fatigue  
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Unintentional weight loss  
  • Pale-looking skin  
  • Joint swelling, stiffness, pain, and deformity  
  • Recurrent infections  
  • Eye burning or discharge

Signs and tests
A physical examination shows an enlarged spleen, and may also show an enlarged liver or enlarged lymph nodes. Joint findings are typical of rheumatoid arthritis.

A CBC (complete blood count) may show decreased neutrophil count.

Treatment
People with this syndrome are usually already under treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Splenectomy (removal of the spleen) may improve the white cell count and the susceptibility to infections.

Expectations (prognosis)
Progression of rheumatoid arthritis is likely. Some people benefit from splenectomy.

Complications
Recurrent infections may develop.

Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of this disorder develop.

Prevention
There is no known prevention for Felty’s syndrome.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.

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