Ultrasound Makes for Speedy, Accurate Arthritis Care

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Rheumatologists Pioneer Approach Called Fast Arthritis Sonographic Evaluation and Treatment, or FAST

Feb 6, 2012


Ultrasound is transforming the way arthritis is diagnosed and treated, making evaluation and treatment quicker and more accurate. The new approach is dubbed fast arthritis sonographic evaluation and treatment, or FAST, by rheumatologists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center who are leading its development.

Traditionally, doctors evaluated joint inflammation manually using their fingers or with a needle to take a sample of joint fluid. With an ultrasound machine, they immediately have a clear picture of the affected joints and tendons — and while they are in motion. The result is less need for needle biopsies, X-rays and other testing. In addition, research has shown that ultrasound improves the accuracy of procedures to reduce joint inflammation and the pain it causes. It also gives patients visual evidence of the progress they are making, helping them stay compliant with their treatment plan.

Early diagnosis of arthritis is important because it can prevent joint damage and disability, says Dr. Dimitrios Pappas, a rheumatologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "Even minor joint symptoms that continue over a week should be evaluated. As the name suggests, our FAST ultrasound clinics are designed to get patients evaluated and on the road to recovery quickly and without unnecessary testing and treatments."

What Is Arthritis and How Is It Treated?

Arthritis comprises more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. Other frequently occurring forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia and gout. Common symptoms include pain, aching, stiffness and swelling in or around the joints. Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect multiple organs and cause widespread symptoms. Patients can manage their arthritis through a physician-supervised program that may include medication, physical activity and weight loss. Other treatments include joint aspiration to relieve pressure, steroid injections and surgical procedures.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and its academic partner, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report.

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