The Department of Rheumatology was established in 1992 on the basis of a former Internal Medicine Clinic under Kaunas Clinics, Hospital of Lithuanian University of Health Sciences(LSMU). Since its establishment, the teaching team of top-level specialists and doctors of medical sciences, led by Professor N. Misiūnienė, later Professor A. Baranauskaitė, has been providing care for patients with rheumatic diseases, developing the scientific field of rheumatology in Lithuania, and educating young aspiring doctors and researchers, drawing from their own expertise as well as that of the international colleagues.

The Department of Rheumatology consists of a 27-bed inpatient unit and 2 consulting rooms.

The specialists at the Department of Rheumatology, currently 9 doctors, are predominantly actively involved in both clinical practice and pedagogical work. They provide consultations to other departments within Kaunas Clinic, participate in the education of students and residents, activities of the Lithuanian Rheumatologists. . Our specialists also contribute significantly to the development of guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatological conditions in Lithuania. International clinical trials are regularly conducted at the Department.

The following rheumatological diseases are treated: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic connective tissue disorders (systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), etc.), gout, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory myopathies, joint, bone and soft tissue infections, vasculitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis, temporal arteritis, microscopic polyangiitis, etc.), periarthritis (tendonitis, bursitis, etc.). Differential diagnosis of advanced rheumatic disorders and indeterminate musculoskeletal disorders, musculoskeletal tumours. Modern methods of biological therapy are used at the Department of Rheumatology: TNF blockers (such as infliximab, adalimumab, etanercept), the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab, certolizumab pegol, tocilizumab, and belimumab).

The specialists at the Department perform a range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, including joint ultrasound imaging, ultrasound-guided and blind joint punctures, intra-articular injections, microscopic diagnosis of urate crystals in the synovial fluid, capillaroscopy, skin biopsy. Modern radiological tools (such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, bone scans, densitometry), immunological tests, biopsies of tissues and organs, and digital video capillaroscopy are used to diagnose and treat the disorders.

The Department of Rheumatology is involved in the execution of the study programmes of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, providing training to 4th and 6th year students. In the 4th year, rheumatology studies are integrated into the module of Pathology of the Musculoskeletal System. During the classes delivered by the Department, the the students have the opportunity to observe the process of diagnosis and treatment of patients with rheumatological conditions. They also have the chance to discuss actual patients individually or with a teacher, listen to lectures, and  take part in seminars and tutorial sessions. Sixth-year students have the option to follow a 1.5-month clinical rheumatology cycle, during which they acquire extended knowledge in rheumatology.

The Department is also involved in the training of medical residents of different specialties. During the 2-month rheumatology cycle, resident doctors work in the Department and consulting rooms. Rheumatology residents are trained under the 4-year Rheumatology Residency Programme, where they split their time equally between  the Department Rheumatology and various units of Internal Medicine, Neurology, Orthopaedics, Dermatology, and Radiology. Upon completion of the Rheumatology residency, these specialists are equipped with the fundamentals of joint ultrasound and the prerequisite competencies to perform diagnostic and therapeutic joint punctures. The Department’s lecturers are also involved in the process of continued professional development of the graduating specialists by delivering lectures and organizing refresher courses for family physicians, internal medicine physicians, and rheumatologists.

Our Department’s scientific advances enable us to introduce new and more effective methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic disorders. Epidemiological studies on back pain and spondyloarthritis were carried out at the Department of Rheumatology. The differential diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic scleroderma, and Raynaud’s phenomenon is of particular interest. The D participated in an international study on the course and early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and prognostic factors.

We participate in international projects initiated by the EULAR (European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology), EUSTAR (European Scleroderma Trials & Research Group). Immunogenetic studies are conducted in the context of biological therapy.

Currently, there are 2 students pursuing doctoral degrees in the PhD programme. Their research interests include the epidemiology of gout and hyperuricaemia, pathological relationship between hyperuricaemia and cardiovascular diseases, ultrasound diagnosis of gout and early diagnosis of seronegative spondyloarthropathies. Doctoral students have access to an extensive electronic information database, peer-reviewed journals and course books, and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. The studies are supported by the National or LSMU Science Fund, and other foundations based on the principles of project funding.


Department of Rheumatology
Prof. dr. Asta Baranauskaitė
Head of the Department of Rheumatology
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