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Print version ISSN 0120-4157On-line version ISSN 2590-7379


ERASO, Ruth et al. Ferritin levels in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis of systemic onset and children with other causes of fever of unknown origin: A multicenter study of diagnostic tests. Biomed. [online]. 2021, vol.41, n.4, pp.787-802.  Epub Dec 15, 2021. ISSN 0120-4157.


There are no sensitive or specific tests available to diagnose systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA).


To assess the utility as diagnostic tests of total ferritin (TF) levels greater than 5 times the normal value (TF>5N) and the decreased percentage (less than or equal to 20% of TF) of glycosylated ferritin (GF≤20%) for the diagnosis of sJIA in patients with fever of unknown origin evaluated by pediatric rheumatology.

Materials and methods:

We conducted an observational, cross-sectional study of diagnostic tests in children under 16 years of age hospitalized between 2010 and 2014. The reference diagnostic standard was the fulfillment of the classification criteria or confirmed diagnosis at follow-up. We determined the measures of utility of the tests.


We included 40 patients with fever of unknown origin, 11 with sJIA, and 29 with other diagnoses. The median TF was higher in sAIJ (3992 ng/ml) versus other causes of fever of unknown origin (155 ng/ml) (p=0.0027), as well asTF>5N (90.91% versus 51.72%) (p=0.023). The percentage of GF≤20% was higher in patients with other causes of fever of unknown origin (96.5%) compared to sJIA (81.8%) (p=0.178).TF>5N had a sensitivity of 91%, specificity of 48%, positive likelihood ratio (LR) of 1.76, and negative LR of 0.19 demonstrating greater utility for the diagnosis of sJIA than the combination of FT> 5N with GFR <20%, with a sensitivity of 81.8%, specificity of 48.3%, positive LR of 1.58, and negative LR of 0.38.


In patients with FUO evaluated by pediatric rheumatology, TF> 5N proved useful as a screening test for the diagnosis of sJIA.

Keywords : systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis/diagnosis; ferritins; sensitivity and specificity; likelihood ratio.

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