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February 1984

Disease Criteria for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Author Affiliations

Stanford University Medical Center Stanford, CA 94305

Arch Intern Med. 1984;144(2):252-253. doi:10.1001/archinte.1984.00350140052005

Presentation of disease "criteria" affirms our ignorance of the essence of a disease. If we understand a disease we can describe the elements that are necessary and sufficient for its diagnosis. One can so define gouty arthritis, in which joint fluid crystals serve as a "gold standard" against which to measure the usefulness of other observations. No other major rheumatic disease, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), has such a standard. Thus, criteria must be constructed in a circular manner, by testing variables against a diagnosis established by intuition. The "best" criteria therefore only describe the current conventional wisdom in an efficient manner.

See also p 281.

Why then make the effort? Rheumatic disease criteria are designed to (1) enable physicians to use the same language, (2) provide a focal definition for criticism, (3) teach the cardinal features, and (4) raise the diagnostic acuity of the inexperienced toward that of the