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UPMC Launches First-Ever Gastrointestinal Dermatology Clinic

PITTSBURGH, May 13, 2013 – Today, UPMC opened the nation’s first-ever gastrointestinal dermatology clinic to provide coordinated care to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease patients with associated dermatologic conditions.
 
Up to 30 percent of patients with IBD and celiac disease have cutaneous (skin-related) manifestations of their disease, yet until now there has not been a specialty clinic devoted specifically to these patients.
 
IBD, which affects as many as 1.4 million people in the U.S., primarily includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s is a severe and chronic disease that causes inflammation, ulcers and bleeding in the digestive tract. Crohn’s often affects the end portion of the small intestine, but can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis is another type of IBD which affects the colon (large intestine) and rectum. IBD differs from irritable bowel syndrome, which does not cause ulcers or inflammation and does not damage the bowel. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder which damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. People with celiac cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
 
The clinic, located on the fifth floor of the Falk Medical Building in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, will initially be open the first Monday of each month, though hours may change depending on demand. Patients must first be referred from UPMC-based gastroenterology departments.
 
“This is a novel service that we can provide to our patients,” said Lisa Grandinetti, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh and dermatologist at UPMC, who will be leading the new clinic. “We’re excited to open the first-ever specialty clinic to address the needs of IBD patients.”
 
Dermatologic manifestations of gastrointestinal (GI) diseases can occur as both the skin and the GI tract can be affected by the same conditions. Making the correct diagnosis of these conditions requires the ability of physicians to recognize the dermatological presentations of certain GI diseases. For example, dermatitis herpetiformis, or severely itchy small blisters on the elbows, knees and buttocks, is diagnostic for the GI condition known as celiac disease.
 
Other conditions that will be addressed by this clinic include, but are not limited to:

  • Erythema nodosum
  • Pyoderma gangrenosum
  • Aphthous ulcers/aphthous stomatitis
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis and celiac disease
  • TNFα associated psoriasiform dermatoses
  • Nutritional deficiency dermatoses

Dr. Grandinetti joined UPMC in 2009, and has since been receiving referrals from gastroenterologists for patients with IBD who have skin-related problems. Her interest in cutaneous manifestations of GI disease began after medical school, during her residency at the Cleveland Clinic.

“I saw firsthand how patients’ quality of life was significantly affected by their skin condition, often when their GI disease was under control,” noted Grandinetti. “With time, experience and a growing number of patients with cutaneous manifestations of GI diseases, I felt it was a good time to create a specialized clinic that would provide dermatologic and gastroenterologic coordinated care to patients with IBD and other GI issues.”

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