Reactive Arthritis

Nomenclature

  • Only a subset of patients with reactive arthritis have Reiter’s syndrome

Epidemiology

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Etiology

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Physiology

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Diagnosis

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Clinical Manifestations

Other Manifestations

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Treatment

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References

  • Retraction of the suggestion to use the term “Reiter’s syndrome” sixty-five years later: the legacy of Reiter, a war criminal, should not be eponymic honor but rather condemnation. Arthritis Rheum. 2007;56(2):693 [MEDLINE]

Reiter’s syndrome is an eponym used to denote the triad of arthritis, urethritis and conjunctivitis. This syndrome is named after Hans Conrad Julius Reiter, who was involved in the activities of the Nazi Racial Hygiene Program related to involuntary sterilization, euthanasia and criminal research projects. Reiter defamed the entire medical profession and it was therefore suggested that the term Reiter’s syndrome be changed to reactive arthritis. We undertook to investigate the use of the eponym Reiter syndrome in medical literature, medical schools in Israel and medical textbooks, compared to the term reactive arthritis, by searching Medline between the years 2003 and 2007, 14 current medical textbooks, curricula of the four medical schools in Israel, and computerized patient file systems in Israel. We found a decline in the use of the eponym in articles published between 2003 (18%) and 2007 (9%); however, most textbooks (13/14) still use it. Two of the four medical schools in Israel continue to use the eponym. The eponym appears in the computerized patient files of all four healthcare providers in Israel. We hold that the continued use of the eponym Reiter syndrome in medical textbooks, medical schools and computerized patients files in Israel is honoring an abomination and is inconsistent with medical principles. Awareness is still lacking and we suggest deleting the Reiter syndrome eponym from use, and replacing it with the more appropriate term–reactive arthritis.