Objective Behçet's disease is an autoimmune disease with multisystem vasculitis. The objective of this study was to explore the natural history of Behçet's disease after onset, using a clinical database on patients receiving financial aid for treatment.
Methods In the fiscal year 2005, 16 627 patients with Behçet's disease were registered to receive public financial aid from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) in Japan. The MHLW has an on-line registration system of intractable diseases including Behçet's disease. We obtained the 2005 clinical database, which contained 9416 patients with Behçet's disease. We confirmed the distribution of years from disease onset, and calculated duration from onset to the first doctor's visit. We analysed changes in disease severity, and prevalence of the types of Behçet's disease, according to years after disease onset.
Results The proportion of years from disease onset of less than 1 year was 9%, 2–5 years was 15%, 6–15 years was 30%, and more than 16 years was 46%. The average duration from onset to the first doctor's visit was about 2.5–3 years. Prevalence of the complete type of Behçet's disease increased with the years after disease onset. Regarding disease severity, the proportion of severe cases increased with the years from disease onset.
Conclusion Using a clinical database with Behçet's disease, we characterised the clinical/epidemiological features of Behçet's disease according to years after disease onset.
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Funding This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Research Committee of Intractable disease, provided by the MHLW, Japan.