Brief in English from Bechterew-Brief No. 86

Prof. Edward SENN, formerly at the university of Munich and until recently medical head of a hospital in Switzerland, explains why the regular group therapy is so essential in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. The article, reprinted from the newsletter of our Swiss sister society and illustrated with photographs of DVMB therapy groups, is highly actual in a time when health insurance companies tend to refuse repeated group therapy by pointing out that limited participation should be sufficient to teach patients the correct home exercise.

The article is complemented by an article dealing with all the excuses that may prevent AS patients to participate in physiotherapy. It is a version adapted to the situation in our country of an article by Shannon WILDER originally published in Arthritis today in the US with their quite different health system.

Two articles deal with osteoporosis: The article by Elisabeth TREUER on osteoporosis in AS patients was originally published in the newsletter of our Swiss sister society. The guide-lines for the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis is a patient-adapted version of an article originally appeared in Rheumatology in Europe.

Prof. Wolfgang KEITEL who wrote the articles on Bechterew’s sudden death under Stalin, on Paul Schober, and on Adolf Strümpell published in former issues of this newsletter, contributes a report on the life of Hans Reiter and the syndrome detected by him. Reiter (born in 1881) detected the trias of arthritis, conjunctivitis and urethritis (constituting a special type of reactive arthritis) during World War I in 1916. He was a well known scientist in social health care in the 1920s. Shortly before 1933 he joined the nazi party and became president of the German health department immediately after Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933. We do not know Reiter’s role in a secret meeting in December 1941 at which the organisation of vaccination and infection experiments with KZ prisoners was decided. We only know that Reiter lost in April 1942 the responsibility for the Robert Koch Institute in which these experiments horribly despising humanity were organised. He was imprisoned in 1945–47 but was not condemned as a war criminal. Other names for his syndrome have been proposed, for instance „okulo-urethro-synovial syndrome”, but have proven as unpractical.

Dr. Matthias BECKER from the uveitis centre of Heidelberg university intends to search for factors other than HLA-B27 contributing to the inheritance of uveitis in combination with AS, in cooperation with other centres in Germany and the USA. For this purpose, he invites families to participate in which more than one member suffer from uveitis.

Prof. Detlev RIEDE from the university in Halle reports his experiences in 1963–1980 with more than 1000 AS patients treated by physiotherapy in combination with Radium-224 injections. As mentioned in former issues of the newsletter, the therapy with the radioactive isotope Ra-224 seems to be the only method preventing or slowing down the ankylosis in AS patients, especially when combined with intensive physiotherapy.

Again, we received quite a number of letters-to-the-editor, and specialists helped us by answering the questions. Dr. THURAU (Munich) answered questions concerning anterior uveitis, Dr. KUIPERS and Prof. ZEIDLER (Hannover) questions concerning undifferenciated spondyloarthritis, Prof. ØSTENSEN (Bern, Switzerland) on AS and pregnancy, and Prof. LEMMEL (Bühl) on tooth implants and on the possibility of AS patients to be organ donors.

DVMB News:
Horst GOTTAUT declared not to stand once more for the position of the DVMB chairman in the elections of 2002. We are glad that Franz GADENZ (whom some ASIF delegates know since the ASIF council meeting in 1994 in Portugal), agreed to stand for this position next year and to serve meanwhile as vice chairman of DVMB besides his duties as chairman of DVMB’s Bavaria section, for the sake of continuity.

E. Feldtkeller