New tool to boost lupus tracking to 96% accuracy

monitor lupus
© Thicha Satapitanon

Research indicates the possibility for a new, easier and more accurate tool to measure the progress of lupus in patients

Published by Oxford University Press, the paper in Rheumatology indicated that there may be a new method to protect and track the progress of those who have lupus.

Affecting 1 in 1000 people in the UK

Affecting up to 1.5 million people in the United States and about one in 1000 people in the United Kingdom, Lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus, is not always easy to diagnose because it can be similar to other conditions.

Lupus causes the body’s immune system to attack its own healthy tissues such as liver, joints, skin and kidney. In order to measure the progress of the disease to make accurate decisions about treatment. Previous studies have shown that keeping track of the autoimmune disease leads to less long-term organ damage, however keeping track of the numerous features and symptoms can be incredibly difficult to do.

The BILAG-2004 index, is the standard tool used to measure disease progression and uses multiple reference documents including a case report form, a detailed glossary, and separate scoring algorithms covering nine different areas.

This difficult and time-consuming process that can make it difficult for physicians to measure disease accurately and consistently. In clinical trials, the training required is long, mistakes in scoring are common, and physicians often express frustration with the method.

“Easy-BILAG” project

Researchers have been working on a new “Easy-BILAG” project to aid doctors in assessing lupus. Easy-BILAG, is a single-page document using colour-coding to make assessment more user friendly way.

The researchers found that, when compared across a variety of factors, the new tool enabled more accurate, consistent, and time efficient measurements of lupus disease progression.

Accuracy boosted to 96%

The overall accuracy of the tool was boosted to 96% allowing general hospital rheumatologists could measure disease progression accurately in 91.3% of cases using the new tool compared with 75% when using the standard format BILAG-2004 index. Rheumatologists were able to use the new tool to assess cases faster, in under an hour. The standard format took an average 80 minutes to complete.

The new tool was rated by rheumatologists as “intuitive and well adapted for routine clinical practice and expressed willingness to use it regularly.”

“The standard-format BILAG is useful for assessing individual patients,” said the author, Edward Vital.

“But its downside was always the time and training needed to complete it. Being able to measure the progress of lupus quickly and easily has transformed my practice so I’m excited that we can now make it easy for anyone to do the same.”


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