History of the Leeds Specialist Spondyloarthritis Service
The Specialist Spondyloarthritis Service in Leeds was created at the turn of the 21st century and has a proud history. It originated as a bi-monthly clinic run by Professor Verna Wright for patients with established Ankylosing Spondylitis and has evolved into a modern weekly and responsive service dedicated to the care of patients with all types of Spondyloarthritis, in particular Axial Spondyloarthritis (AS) and Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA). Research is an integral part of the service.
What is Spondyloarthritis?
The concept of Spondyloarthritis (also known as SpA) as a group of related diseases was first described by Professor Wright and Dr John Moll in Leeds in the 1970s. They studied several families in the Yorkshire region with skin psoriasis and joint symptoms and described a new disease entity: Psoriatic Arthritis. Until then, Psoriatic Arthritis had been called ‘Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis’. SpA does not just affect the joints but is also associated with other conditions such as skin psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease or uveitis. Understanding the complex needs of people affected by one or more of these conditions, the Specialist Spondyloarthritis Service has a long history of working in collaboration with specialist colleagues in dermatology, gastroenterology, radiology and ophthalmology, amongst others.
The Combined Psoriatic Service
The Combined Psoriatic Arthritis and Psoriasis Clinic in Leeds was one of the first combined services to be set up in the UK. In a weekly clinic, consultant rheumatologists and dermatologists work together to create personalised treatment regimes aimed at improving the physical condition and quality of life of people affected by Psoriatic Arthritis and skin psoriasis. The clinic is a tertiary referral hub that benefits from the combined efforts of Rheumatology and Dermatology Specialist nurses, junior doctors and allied health professionals. The service has national and international recognition and regularly hosts clinicians and other allied health professionals in a dedicated educational programme.
The Combined Rheumatology and Gastroenterology clinic
The Combined Rheumatology and Gastroenterology clinic is a bi-monthly clinical service where patients affected by both inflammatory bowel and joint conditions can be simultaneously reviewed by a consultant rheumatologist and a consultant gastroenterologist. This allows prompt management and timely initiation of treatment, avoiding unnecessary cross-service referrals. Patient satisfaction with these combined clinics is very high.
Research performed by the Leeds SpA team has been internationally recognized as pioneering in the fields of disease classification and diagnostics, pathogenesis, therapeutics and outcome assessments. In 1999 the team were among the first in the world to study the role of biologic therapies in Ankylosing Spondylitis and to explore the role of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in diagnosing and assessing the effect of biologic agents in SpA. These therapies are now used widely, representing the mainstay of treatment in SpA. The combined output of the research team exceeds >1000 publications in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals such as the British Medical Journal (BMJ), The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.