of Rheumatology in India was first established at the Army Hospital, Delhi
in 1973. Presently there are six rheumatology centres in the Armed Forces
in Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Lucknow, Bangalore and Chandimandir (Chandigarh).
The rheumatologists working in these institutions have been formally
trained in prestigious medical institutes of rheumatology like All India
Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi, Medical College, Chennai
and Sanjay Gandhi Post-graduate Institute of Medical Science (SGPGI),
of Rheumatology at Army Hospital (Research & Referral) is
well-equipped with state-of-the-art facilities like arthroscopy,
nephelometery and fluorescent microscope which are benefitting the
personnel, their families and ex-servicemen of all the three Services. The
department is soon to acquire flow- cytometer and joint scanner to improve
the diagnostic skills.
Rheumatological disorders are the
most common diseases encountered in the medical practice. These diseases
include joints and muscle disorders and host of autoimmune multisystem
diseases. There is a need to educate the patients of such disorders that
an advanced treatment exists in our country also. Rheumatology includes
studies on diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and
various connective tissue disorders. Rheumatology also deals with systemic
connective tissue diseases like systemic lupus erythematosis, progressive
systemic sclerosis and polymyosits. All these diseases have one thing in
common that most of these problems are associated with arthritis,
arthralgia (joint pains) and/or widespread aches and pains. Besides
joints, muscles and connective tissue, other vital organs like kidney,
heart and lungs can also be involved in these diseases.
Unfortunately, rheumatology as a
subject is not very well-covered in undergraduate teaching in medical
colleges. This results in delay in the diagnosis. Sometimes misconception,
even among doctors, that these diseases are incurable and modern medicine
does not offer any remedy, results in patients going to quacks, hakims,
sadhus and traditional healers.
Rheumatology Centre is the only
centre in the country which has intervention rheumatology unit consisting
of arthroscopy for synovial research purpose. The Army Hospital (R &
R) also has one of the most modern Joint Replacement Centres (JRC) for the
cases of complete joint failure.
There has been a tremendous
advancement in the field of rheumatology and immunology in the last
decade. Keeping this in mind, the rheumatologists from all over the
country would share their views and experiences at the National
Rheumatology Update being conducted under the aegis of Department of
Rheumatology. This will also be an opportunity for a dialogue between
civil and service rheumatologists.
input : Col
V P Chaturvedi