Rheumatology is the specialty of medicine that includes autoimmune and autoinflammatory conditions including arthritis. The term arthritis refers to the inflammation of a joint in the body. An autoimmune or autoinflammatory condition is where an abnormality in the immune system leads to the body’s defence harming its own cells by mistake.
Paediatric Rheumatology encompasses a wide variety of inflammatory and non-inflammatory conditions of the musculoskeletal system (muscles and joints) as well as conditions of non-infectious multi-system inflammation.
The types of conditions cared for by the Rheumatology team include:
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- Vasculitis (e.g. Kawasaki, Behcet's)
- Connective tissue disease (e.g. juvenile dermatomyositis, scleroderma)
- Autoinflammatory conditions (e.g. chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis, periodic fever syndromes)
- Dr Jacqueline Yan Paediatric Rheumatologist
- Dr Anthony Concannon Paediatric Rheumatologist
- Dr Genevieve Ostring Paediatric Rheumatologist
At the clinic appointment a history of your child's symptoms will be taken as well as a review of any medications they are on. Your child will then be examined, and may be referred for further testing. The specialist will discuss with you the possible diagnosis and what further tests or treatments are recommended. They will also contact your GP and/or paediatrician about the diagnosis, results of tests and a treatment plan.
Common Conditions / Procedures / Treatments
Blood tests can be used to look for how much inflammation there is in the body, monitor certain side effects of the medicines the patient is taking and/or help classify the patient's rheumatological condition.
X-rays are used to give a picture of the bones and joints. An x-ray can help to check the position and condition of the bones near a joint.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) gives even more detailed pictures of joints and organs and may be helpful to check if the joint is damaged. Occasionally, if more detailed information about the joints is required, a dye is injected into the vein to show more detail in the picture.
A joint injection is most often done to deliver medicine directly into the joint. This may be done when the other medication the patient is taking is not controlling the arthritis well enough or if the patient has only a few swollen joints. In older children the joint injections are done with the child inhaling Entonox (laughing gas) which helps relieve the discomfort of the procedure. Younger children are given a general anaesthetic.
Some medications used in rheumatology are given as an intravenous infusion. These are given in hospital as a day admission.
Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves/echoes to give images of soft tissues and fluid. These images can be helpful to show areas of inflammation.