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What is the NIH Pediatric Rheumatology Clinic?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pediatric Rheumatology Clinic is a specialty-care medical facility dedicated to evaluating and treating children with pediatric rheumatic diseases who are enrolled in clinical trials. Since the causes of these diseases are unknown, the NIH also seeks to gain a better understanding of why some children develop them. The NIH is a Government agency committed to improving the health of the Nation.

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The NIH Pediatric Rheumatology Clinic consists of two major parts: a clinic and a health information resource center. In the clinic, medical staff diagnose and treat children with arthritis, periodic fever syndromes, lupus, and other rheumatic diseases who are enrolled in clinical trials. Clinical trials may be studies of the natural history, signs, and symptoms of disease when usual treatment is given. They may also include experimental treatment or diagnostic tests. Children and their parents will be informed about the details of clinical trials, and enrollment will be offered if the child is eligible. Medical services are provided without charge to the patient.

Pediatric rheumatology is a specialty area of medicine that focuses on inflammatory conditions like arthritis and others, as they affect children. Each pediatric rheumatologist is well trained for this field, and has first completed medical school and three or more years specialty training in pediatrics. They then complete an additional three years residency in pediatric rheumatology.

There are many conditions in which pediatric rheumatology takes an interest. Though many people associate this specialty with the treatment of arthritis in children, lots of other suspected illnesses could have general practitioners or pediatricians recommend a child see a pediatric rheumatologist. Some of these conditions include lupus, Kawasaki disease and scleroderma. Any case of suspected inflammatory illness that affects the muscles, bones or joints, and sometimes the organs, or that causes things like rashes and unexplained fever might be of interest to a pediatric rheumatologist.

In pediatric rheumatology, principle issues are examination, diagnosis and treatment of patients. Patients can be assessed in numerous ways, such as through physical examination, through blood testing, by aspirating fluid from joints, and by performing various scans like x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging or computerized axial tomography. Sometimes diagnosis is easy to make, and other times illnesses resist diagnosis or may fall outside of the rheumatology field, necessitating referral to another specialist.


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