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The Age of Discovery: Hospital for Special Surgery is the Center of Excellence in Rheumatology Care and Research

Patient care: Our division provides over 35,000 ambulatory care visits a year. More than 30 full-time physicians cover the in-patient Rheumatology service at HSS and provide the Rheumatology consultation service for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell Division, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Rockefeller University In-Patient Service.

Education: Our division provides a three year Fellowship in Rheumatology, with two to three Fellows added each year. The first year is largely clinical, the second both clinical and research-based, and the third year largely research-based. Our division is committed to training the future leaders in Rheumatology and in providing the optimal experience in basic and clinical research which will provide our Fellows with the training that will lead to future success. We meet the Rheumatology and Immunology educational needs of the Residents at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell Division, and those of the medical students at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Research: We are committed to the training of our Fellows in basic and clinical research methodology, and to state-of-the-art, ongoing research which will advance the care of patients with rheumatic disease, now and in the future. We have eleven full-time physician researchers, along with 15 clinically-based Rheumatologists, along with PhD scientists producing high-level contributions to the medical literature. We have an active clinical research program, testing the latest innovations in treatment.

Community Service: Our division provides a large number of community programs to educate and assist patients. We give numerous community lectures on Rheumatologic topics. We supervise patient self-help groups, e.g., in rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and myositis. Our website (www.hss.edu) has a portion dedicated to patient education. Numerous services are provided to our Rheumatology clinic population, including the Voices program, which provides free assistance with dealing with insurance issues and extensive availability of social workers.

Goals of the Rheumatology Division

Musculoskeletal disorders and arthritis alter the lives of more than 40 million people in the U.S. and arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Rheumatology is the specialty of medicine that cares for people with the more than 100 types of arthritis. The rheumatologists at Hospital For Special Surgery are acknowledged as the best in the world in the spheres of patient care, medical education, and basic and clinical research focused on finding the causes and cures of arthritis. Given the extraordinary medical advances that have occurred in the past few years, HSS physicians are now poised to prevent many joint disorders, cure a significant portion of them, and universally improve the lives of patients who have arthritis. This is because our institution is at the cutting edge of research and is second to none in its ability to deliver the highest quality of care to patients who are afflicted with joint and autoimmune disorders. Employing a multidisciplinary diagnostic and therapeutic approach that is unique to this institution, you can be assured of the best and most up-to-date and caring treatment.

Understanding rheumatologic diseases

The joint is a complex organ of the body that functions at its best when all of its parts are working well and in unison. However, there are many disorders that can damage its many components either singly or all at once, including cartilage, bone, ligaments, and tendons. Osteoarthritis, the most common type, causes cartilage and bone abnormalities that can lead to joint damage, and, in the worst case, the need for joint replacement. We are now studying new medications that can actually modify this disorder and, hopefully, prevent the advancement of the joint dysfunction. Significant advances in the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis are available at HSS. Rheumatoid arthritis, which occurs in approximately 1% of the population, has a greater potential for causing irreversible joint damage in many parts of the body. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system wages battle on itself and is probably triggered by some environmental factor such as a viral infection. The greatest research and therapeutic advances have been made in this disorder and we now, daily, reverse the ravages of this disorder with advanced drugs that safely reset the immune response and turn off its destructive personality. Along with these disorders, HSS rheumatologists are considered the experts in the care of other disorders such as:

  • Other autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, polymyositis and dermatomyositis, Sjogren's syndrome, and various forms of vasculitis such as Wegener's granulomatosus, polyarteritis nodosa, temporal arteritis, and polymyalgia rheumatica;
  • Infectious arthritis such as Lyme disease, septic arthritis, viral arthritis due to hepatitis B and C, and parvovirus B 19;
  • Inflammatory joint disorders such as psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis or Reiter's syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, and the arthritis associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
  • Fibromyalgia, tendonitis, bursitis, and overuse syndromes

Experience Counts

The 27 rheumatologists at HSS see more than 10,000 new patients per year and 35,000 follow-ups. This high volume as well as complexity makes the level of care provided extraordinary and unique. Because many rheumatic diseases tend to be chronic, patients who come to HSS benefit from developing long-term and close relationships with their rheumatologist. These knowledgeable and compassionate physicians understand the illnesses that they treat and bring the most modern and optimal treatments to their patients. Their association with the foremost academic medical center in the world brings the best medical care to each doctor-patient interaction. We focus our efforts on caring, trust, communication, and the appreciation of what state-of-the-art medicine is.

World Class, Integrated Rheumatologic Care

On a day-by-day basis, the HSS rheumatologists interact closely with many other essential health care professionals necessary to improve our patient's lives and rid them of the limitations imposed upon them by arthritis. This includes our world class Orthopaedic surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, and clinical and basic research scientists.

As an academic medical center we are dedicated to putting ourselves out of business through research. We are constantly defining the main clinical issues that affect our patients and then going back to the laboratory to find the reason they exist and find a cure for it. The National Institutes of Health, the Federal Government, and innumerable Foundations have lauded the research performed at HSS as the best there is, and supported our research for the past fifty years.

The Bright Future

We not only look forward to a time when our patients no longer have their lives altered by arthritis, but we are working tirelessly towards that goal. Our modern clinical and research facilities are poised to find the causes and cures of arthritis and autoimmune disorders. As a Musculoskeletal Center of Excellence, we offer a unique medical environment in which improvement of our patients' lives is an everyday occurrence and the cure of all disease is a goal that is just on the horizon.