Division of Pediatric Rheumatology

Dr. Rich Vehe

Richard Vehe, MD, Professor & Division Director, Division of Pediatric Rheumatology

The Division of Pediatric Rheumatology specializes in patient care, professional education, and research related to children with rheumatic diseases.

Pediatric Rheumatology is the specialty focused on the evaluation and care of children with arthritis and related diseases. There are 80 or more conditions that can be associated with arthritis symptoms, and it is estimated that 300,000 children in the U.S. have one of these conditions. Although many problems are temporary, prompt identification and appropriate treatment of the more serious or chronic conditions is essential to prevent lifelong damage and consequent pain or disabilities.

The activities of the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology include:

  • Evaluation and care of children as outpatients and inpatients who are suspected to have a rheumatic disease,
  • Education of students, residents, fellows, physicians, nurses, and therapists regarding pediatric rheumatic diseases, and
  • Clinical, translational, and basic research regarding rheumatic diseases in collaboration with other centers in the U.S. and worldwide.

Education & Training

The goal of our Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship Program is to train new specialists that can advance patient care, professional education, and research for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions for the benefit of the estimated 6,400 affected children in our area, and children elsewhere.

Patient Care

Our pediatric rheumatologists continually explore innovative ways for evaluating, diagnosing and treating rheumatic diseases and conditions, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Additional Patient Care Information

Our Service

Our clinical team has been assembled to facilitate the evaluation and treatment of children with rheumatic diseases.

Each child referred to the arthritis/rheumatology program will be seen by a pediatric physician and nurse specializing in the evaluation and care of children with rheumatic diseases.

Coordination of visits with consultants in other pediatric medical specialties, pediatric physical and occupational therapy, and pediatric ophthalmology can also be arranged when needed through this program.

Our Patients

Children are seen from a wide geographical area, most commonly Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Michigan (UP).  The most common reasons for these visits are:

Juvenile Arthritis (JIA)

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

  • Oligoarticular
  • Polyarticular
  • Systemic

Spondyloarthropathy (Enthesitis-Arthritis) Syndromes

  • Enthesitis-Associated JIA
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Arthritis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Reactive Arthritis/Reiter's Syndrome
  • Psoriatic JIA

Other Rheumatic Diseases

  • Behcet's Disease
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Systemis Scleroderma
  • Systemic Vasculitis

Infection-Related Arthritis

  • Lyme Arthritis
  • Post-Infectious Arthritis
  • Viral Arthritis

Appointments 

Children are seen on Monday through Friday in the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in the Explorer Clinic-Pediatric Specialty Care in the Riverside East Building.

Clinic Map and Parking Information

New patient appointments are scheduled through the Pediatric Rheumatology Office at (612) 626-4598.  We need the mailing addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers for your child's primary care physician and consultants.  Appointments are scheduled only after we receive relevant medical records, including physician notes, laboratory results, x-rays, and reports.

Returning patient appointments are scheduled directly through the clinic at (612) 365-6777 or through the Health Access Line at 1 (888) 256-9787.

For all types of appointments, be sure to bring shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt for your child to wear during the examination, and any new laboratory, x-ray, or physician reports that were not already sent.

Contact

If you have questions or concerns about your child, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Denise Erlanson, RN, BSN, and Nora Fitzsimmons, RN, BSN, our primary nurses for the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology, can help answer questions about your child's rheumatic condition, medications, and tests.  They can be reached directly at (612) 626-4597 or toll free via (855) 267-5289.

For emergencies after hours or on the weekends, please call the paging operator at (612) 273-3000 or toll free at (855) 267-5289 and ask to speak to the physician on-call for Pediatric Rheumatology.

Sheng Xiong, our clinical administrative coordinator, can help with appointments, prescription refills, records forwarding, and other office matters.  She can be reached directly at (612) 626-4598 or toll free via (855) 267-5289.

Research

Your child may be eligible to participate in a research project that will help increase our understanding of childhood rheumatic diseases. We value participation in research because it is an important way for to learn new things about what is best for kids like yours! We participate in both of the major research networks for the specialty of Pediatric Rheumatology.

View our Current Studies

Feel free to ask your doctor or contact our research coordinator for more information: Sara Kramer at (612) 301-1554 or krame455@umn.edu.

Juvenile Arthritis Minnesota (JaMINN) Study

The Juvenile Arthritis Minnesota (JaMINN) study is designed to learn more about the environmental factors that trigger JIA onset and disease flare in children.

Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA)

The Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) is a North American organization of pediatric rheumatologists who are committed to advancing the health and quality of life of children living with rheumatic disease and arthritis and who have joined together to answer critical clinical research questions.

Observational Study of Pediatric Rheumatic Diseases: The CARRA Registry

This is a long-term observational registry designed to answer pressing questions about therapies used for pediatric rheumatic diseases, including safety questions. 

The Pediatric Rheumatology Collaborative Study Group (PRCSG) 

"The Pediatric Rheumatology Collaborative Study Group (PRCSG) was founded in 1973 and has over 150 members at over 90 academic clinical pediatric rheumatology centers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The chief aim of the PRCSG is to conduct high quality clinical trails, of therapeutic agents, in children with rheumatic diseases."

An Observational Registry of Abatacept in Patients with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

This is a long-term observational registry for patients who are less than 18 years old and taking abatacept (Orencia). It is designed to carefully monitor the safety and effectiveness of this therapy for JIA.

A Long-Term, Open-Label Follow-Up Study of CP-690,550 for Treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

This is a long-term follow-up study of the safety and effectiveness of tofacitinib for people who have participated in an earlier study of tofacitinib.