SAPHO syndrome (acronym for Synovitis, Acne, Pustulosis, Hyperostosis and Osteitis) is an auto-inflammatory disease, mainly characterized by the association of neutrophilic cutaneous involvement and chronic osteomyelitis.
The age of onset ranges from childhood to late adulthood, with a median age between 30 and 40 years. SAPHO syndrome encompasses a wide spectrum of anomalies characterized by variable combinations of osteoarticular and cutaneous manifestations of varying degrees of severity. The onset of bone and joint pain, stiffness and swelling is most often insidious. In adults, inflammation occurs mainly in the anterior chest wall but also in the spine, less frequently in the mandible and the iliac bones ; in children it shows a comparable distribution as chronic non bacterial osteomyelitis (CNO/CRMO) (e.g. long bones, clavicle, spine). When synovitis occurs, it manifests most of the times in the sacro-iliac joint, hips or knees, or the sternoclavicular joints. Depending on severity of symptoms, a limited range of motion may be observed. Dermatological involvement includes severe acne, palmoplantar pustulosis, and pustular psoriasis. Skin manifestations often begin 1-2 years before osseous changes but may appear simultaneously or more than 20 years later. Patients may also suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea, anal fissures or abscesses, suggesting the possible association with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Most authors regard CNO/CRMO as the pediatric form of SAPHO syndrome. In fact, the frequent occurrence of dermatological disorders or IBD pleads for the inclusion of these two entities in the same spectrum.