Initially assumed to be a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis, Felty (or Felty's) syndrome has since been identified as a rare autoimmune disorder characterized by a combination of symptoms with the acronym SANTA: Splenomegaly, (Rheumatoid) Arthritis, Neutropenia, Thrombocytopenia, and Anemia. Because experts understand so little about the disease, it is often misdiagnosed as other immune disorders and even forms of cancer. The exact cause of Felty's isn't clear, but because of its effect on the immune system, it's considered life-threatening if not controlled.
Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is an autoimmune disease that triggers systemic inflammatory reactions as the body attacks its tissues. While the disorder affects the skin, lungs, and heart, one visible manifestation is the swelling and distortion of joints in the hands, known as synovial hypertrophy. Individuals with RA who also have Felty's syndrome have a higher level of rheumatoid factor, which puts them at risk for a more severe form.
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