Jinny Tavee, MD, Explores Neurosarcoidosis: The Great Mimicker

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Jinny Tavee, MD, explains the potential neurological complications of sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that affects multiple systems.

Jinny Tavee, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Neurology in the Department of Medicine at National Jewish Health explains the key highlights from her American College of Rheumatology State-of-the-Art (ACR-SOTA) presentation, “Neurosarcoidosis: The Great Mimicker,” including the neurological complications of sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that affects multiple systems.

“Usually when it does affect patients, it's the most devastating complication because you are often left with chronic severe disability if it is not treated quickly,” she states.

These complications in sarcoidosis can vary widely, from minor sensations like toe numbness to significant brain lesions, as it can impact any part of the nervous system. This affects around 5-10% of sarcoidosis patients, often leading to severe and chronic disability if not treated promptly. Even after remission, these deficits can persist, underscoring the importance of early recognition and treatment of neurological complications.

As the condition can mimic other diseases, careful clinical assessment is necessary. Tavee emphasizes key diagnostic approaches, which include using gadolinium in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to detect specific brain and spinal cord lesions indicative of sarcoidosis. A spinal tap can also provide clues, such as low glucose levels, supporting the diagnosis.

Treatment with infliximab, a common rheumatologic medication, has shown promise in managing neurosarcoidosis and improving patient outcomes. Additionally, exploring other biomarkers beyond MRI and spinal tap findings can aid in diagnosing neurosarcoidosis more effectively, reducing healthcare costs associated with diagnostic workups and improving patient outcomes.

Overall, timely intervention can significantly impact patient outcomes and quality of life.

“You can make a difference,” she urges rheumatologists. “If you can make the diagnosis and initiate treatment, the patients can have a good outcome. That's what we all want.”

Tavee has no relevant disclosures to report.