Chronic synovial inflammation causes primary osteoarthritis, but it is unknown whether chronic systemic inflammation does, too. Patients with cirrhosis have chronic systemic inflammation and therefore we examined the association between cirrhosis and primary osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.
In Danish healthcare databases we identified all residents over 60 years diagnosed with cirrhosis in 1994-2011, and for each of them we sampled five age- and gender-matched reference persons from the general population. We excluded everyone with risk factors for secondary osteoarthritis and computed incidence rates of primary osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. We used stratified Cox regression to estimate the hazard ratios of primary osteoarthritis for cirrhosis patients vs. reference persons in strata defined by gender, age, cirrhosis etiology, and ascites vs. no ascites. We also computed separate HRs for primary osteoarthritis of the hips or knees.
We identified 10,049 cirrhosis patients. Their median age was 67 years, and 65% were men. Among the cirrhosis patients the crude incidence rate of primary osteoarthritis was 8.40 (95% CI: 7.30-9.63) per 1000 person-years. The rate was similar in the reference persons: 8.76 (95% CI: 8.43-9.12) per 1000 person-years. Accordingly, the hazard ratio for primary osteoarthritis for cirrhosis patients vs. reference persons was 0.99 (95% CI: 0.85-1.16), and we found the same null association in all patient strata and in both joints.
Cirrhosis, and thus chronic systemic inflammation, is not a risk factor for primary osteoarthritis.
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