Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic progressive inflammatory arthritis principally affecting the synovial joints of the spine and adjacent soft tissues, as well as the sacro-iliac joints. Peripheral joints such as the hips, shoulders and knees may also be involved. It usually presents in young men and women, being seven times more frequently seen in men with an insidious onset of lower back pain and stiffness. There is an extremely strong link to the antigen HLA-B27, with approximately 97% of patients being positive for this antigen. These patients do exhibit extra-articular features of the disease including iritis, pulmonary fibrosis, cardiac conduction defects, aortic incompetence, spinal cord compression and amyloidosis .
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