Rheumatology - Scleroderma Program

Scleroderma Program

The Massachusetts General Hospital Scleroderma Program provides expert multidisciplinary care for scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) and conducts research to enhance our understanding of the disease and develop new treatments.
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Call us for more information: 617-726-7938

Overview

A Team Approach to Treating Scleroderma

Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's organs and tissues. This progressive condition can lead to the thickening or hardening of the skin, joint pains, blood-vessel dysfunction and involvement of multiple internal organs.

Multidisciplinary expertise—a hallmark of care at Mass General—is essential in managing multi-system diseases like scleroderma. Our rheumatologists take a team approach to care, coordinating treatment with other world-class specialists at Mass General, such as:

  • Cardiologists
  • Dermatologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Nephrologists
  • Pulmonologists

Members of the Mass General Rheumatology Unit also work with scientists in the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases to better understand scleroderma and develop new treatments. We expect these collaborative efforts will help improve the quality of care for our patients.

What to Expect

Our program is headquartered in the Yawkey Building on the main Mass General campus. Many of our services are also available at Mass General West in Waltham and our community health centers in Charlestown and Chelsea.

All of our rheumatologists care for scleroderma patients. At your first appointment, you will undergo a complete medical history and physical examination. Your physician will look for key signs of scleroderma, such as skin thickening/hardening and blood-vessel irregularities. He or she may also recommend blood tests or other diagnostic tests, such as pulmonary-function tests or echocardiography.

Currently, there is no known cure for scleroderma. However, making an early diagnosis is important because:

A Personalized Treatment Plan

Your specific diagnosis—in particular, disease severity and extent of organ-system involvement—will determine your prognosis and treatment plan. Treatment may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to relieve joint pains
  • Immunosuppressive medications to control the body's immune response
  • Medications for treating specific scleroderma symptoms
  • Physical therapy and exercise to promote muscle strength and joint mobility

Most of our patients receive lifelong care at Mass General. We typically see patients with mild symptoms every three to six months and patients with more severe symptoms every one to three months. At each visit, you can expect to meet with your rheumatologist, who will then coordinate care with other specialists.

If you do not live in the area, we can co-manage care with your local physician and see you yearly to monitor your health.

About this Program

Two Forms of Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a progressive autoimmune disease that can produce complications ranging from mild to severe. Its two main forms are:

  • Localized scleroderma, which affects a local area of the skin (and is most often treated by dermatologists)
  • Systemic sclerosis, which can affect the skin, joints, blood vessels and internal organs

Our rheumatologists specialize in treating systemic sclerosis, the primary focus of our program. Depending on how the patient is affected, our rheumatologists can work together with other world-class specialists at Mass General—including cardiologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists and pulmonologists—to manage care.

Promising Research Is Underway

Although there is no known cure for scleroderma, research is underway at Mass General to find therapies that will improve management of this condition.

In recent years, the Mass General Rheumatology Unit and the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases have helped clarify the mechanisms underlying scleroderma and common complications such as pulmonary fibrosis. Division chief Andrew Luster, MD, PhD, and Flavia Castelino, MD , have collaborated with Andrew Tager, MD, of the Mass General Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit to study a new treatment for the lung and skin manifestations of scleroderma. This treatment will be ready for clinical trials in humans in the near future.

Moving forward, program director Dr. Castelino will lead our efforts to host clinical trials that give patients access to promising novel therapies for scleroderma.

Educating the Next Generation

As part of an elite teaching hospital, the Rheumatology Unit is committed to preparing the next generation of leading academic physicians, scientists and clinician-educators. Our fellowship program, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, offers physicians experience in the clinical aspects of scleroderma. Internal medicine residents also gain exposure to scleroderma patients as part of their general training.

Our Doctors

  • Sheila L. Arvikar, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Lyme disease
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Donald B. Bloch, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients - Call for Availability

    Clinical Interests
    • Sjogren's syndrome
    • Antinuclear antibodies
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Lupus
    Board Certifications
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
    • Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Marcy B. Bolster, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Osteoporosis
    • Scleroderma/Systemic sclerosis
    • Raynaud's phenomenon
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Rheumatology
    Board Certifications
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Flavia V. Castelino, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Scleroderma/Systemic sclerosis
    • Connective tissue associated interstitial lung disease
    • Raynaud's phenomenon
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Dermatomyositis
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Hyon-Kyoo Choi, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Gout and pseudogout
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Psoriatic arthritis
    • Giant cell arteritis
    • Lupus
    • Sjogren's syndrome
    • ANCA-associated vasculitis
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • George Leslie Cohen, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients - Call for Availability

    Clinical Interests
    • Arthritis
    • Polymyalgia rheumatica
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Giant cell arteritis
    • Sjogren's syndrome
    • Lupus
    • Polymyositis
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
    • Waltham: Mass General West
  • Deborah S. Collier, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Rheumatology
    Board Certifications
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
    • Chelsea: Chelsea HealthCare Center
    • Charlestown: Charlestown HealthCare Center
  • Mark C. Fisher, MD, MPH

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Seronegative spondyloarthopathy
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Psoriatic arthritis
    • Arthritis
    • Ankylosing spondylitis
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Gout and pseudogout
    • Sjogren's syndrome
    • Lupus
    • Retroperitoneal fibrosis
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Robert Patrick Friday, MD, PhD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Lupus
    • Psoriatic arthritis
    • Scleroderma/Systemic sclerosis
    • Inflammatory arthritis
    • Spondyloarthritis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Gout and pseudogout
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Nancy D. Kim, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Inflammatory arthritis
    • Spondyloarthropathy
    • Gout and pseudogout
    • Lupus
    Board Certifications
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Minna J. Kohler, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Non-operative management of orthopedic problems
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Inflammatory arthritis
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Musculoskeletal disorders (Bursitis, Tendinitis, Overuse)
    • Gout and pseudogout
    • Ultrasound-guided injections
    • Psoriatic arthritis
    • Musculoskeletal ultrasound
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Eli M. Miloslavsky, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • ANCA-associated vasculitis
    • Giant cell arteritis
    • Cryoglobulinemia
    • Behcet's syndrome
    • Cutaneous vasculitis
    • Aortitis
    • Dermatomyositis
    • Lupus
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Allen Caruthers Steere, MD

    617-726-1527

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Lyme disease
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • John H. Stone, MD, MPH

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • IgG4-related systemic disease
    • Giant cell arteritis
    • Aortitis
    • ANCA-associated vasculitis
    • Cutaneous vasculitis
    • Gout and pseudogout
    • Behcet's syndrome
    • Dermatomyositis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Lupus
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates
  • Sebastian H. Unizony, MD

    617-726-7938

    Accepting New Patients

    Clinical Interests
    • Giant cell arteritis
    • ANCA-associated vasculitis
    • Aortitis
    • Behcet's syndrome
    • Cryoglobulinemia
    • Dermatomyositis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Lupus
    Board Certifications
    • Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine
    • Rheumatology, American Board of Internal Medicine
    Locations
    • Boston: Rheumatology Associates

Conditions & Diseases

  • Scleroderma

    Scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, is a chronic, degenerative disease that affects the joints, skin, and internal organs.

Sign up for Patient Gateway

Call us for more information: 617-726-7938

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