What Do You Consider to Be the Top Medical Advances of the Past 20 Years?

Ryan Syrek, Editor


May 27, 2015

Understanding the link between genetic risk factors and rheumatic diseases: A steadily growing understanding of genetic risk factors (and protective factors) in the onset, severity, and progression of many rheumatic diseases has provided the knowledge base for future advances in prevention and treatment. It also advances our understanding of the pathophysiology of these diseases.

An appreciation for environmental influences on rheumatic diseases: The knowledge of critical environmental risk factors (eg, cigarette smoking, obesity) in several rheumatic diseases has spurred research to identify additional environmental contributors. This knowledge can be directly applied to disease prevention and leads to improved understanding of pathogenesis.

Early intensive outcome-targeted treatments: Reports of improved long-term outcomes after following early intensive outcome-targeted treatment suggest that this management of some rheumatic diseases (eg, rheumatoid arthritis) can improve long-term outcomes and reduce disability. When combined with the availability of new, highly effective drugs, these approaches offer the potential to reduce the societal cost of these diseases.

Advances in surgical approaches to rheumatic disease: Dramatic advances in surgical repair of damaged joints, associated structures, ligaments, and tendons have changed the outlook for recovery from arthritic damage. Surgical advances in ligament and tendon repair have changed sports careers. Faster recovery and improved joint replacement have improved countless lives.

Targeted pharmaceuticals: The advent of treatment for refractory disease with targeted pharmaceuticals has allowed control of symptoms and improved long-term outcomes for a growing list of rheumatic diseases. These drugs represent the single most significant advance in treatment since the introduction of aspirin.

Top advances in rheumatology selected by Herbert S. Diamond, MD, Visiting Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York; Chairman Emeritus, Department of Internal Medicine, Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For more on use of targeted pharmaceuticals in rheumatic conditions, read here.


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