07:00 AM

Orthopedic and Rheumatology Physicians Launch new Center to Study Surgical Treatments and Outcomes in Rheumatic Patients

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) announces the addition of the Integrative Rheumatology and Orthopedics Center (IROC), a new center of excellence in rheumatology focused on research to improve orthopedic surgical outcomes for patients with rheumatic diseases.

As a world leader in both orthopedics and rheumatology, HSS has the unique opportunity for physicians across both specialties to collaborate in research and integrate findings into patient care. While collaboration has always occurred during the history of HSS, the IROC is the first formalized center created for this sole purpose.

"As director, I hope to establish better data collection tools and resources to continue our research in perioperative medicine," said Susan M. Goodman, MD, rheumatologist and director of the IROC. "One of the issues we are investigating is how patients with a rheumatic disease respond to a hip or knee replacement compared to those who do not have a rheumatic condition."

Dr. Goodman and her team are currently collecting joint tissue from patients with rheumatoid arthritis undergoing joint replacement surgery. During the typical hip or knee replacement, joint tissue is excised, and the IROC team has incorporated the access to tissues into their study design. By examining the tissue, the researchers are able to simultaneously study the clinical manifestation of the disease along with the biologic information including genetic information.

"As physicians, it is clear our problems are easier to solve when we work together," said HSS hip and knee surgeon Michael L. Parks, MD. "We study multi-dimensional issues that require varying perspectives from a diverse group of experts. Working together with Dr. Goodman and the rest of the IROC team will continue to ensure the best surgical outcomes for our patients."

Dr. Goodman and her collaborators have shown that patients from impoverished neighborhoods have poorer hip and knee replacement outcomes than patients from wealthier neighborhoods. However, education seems to be protective, so that those patients with higher education do just as well as those from wealthy neighborhoods. As part of the ongoing collaboration at the IROC, Dr. Goodman hopes to identify additional medical and social factors that contribute to poor healthcare outcomes as well as factors such as education that seem to improve outcomes.

"We want to optimize outcomes for everyone," said Dr. Goodman. "Regardless of financial situations, people should have the opportunity to live a pain-free life and enjoy everyday activities that many of us might take for granted."