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Rheumatol Int. 2008 Aug;28(10):1023-9. doi: 10.1007/s00296-008-0556-1. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

Management of cutaneous vascular complications in systemic scleroderma: experience from the German network.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Münster, Münster, Germany.


Major cutaneous vascular complications of systemic sclerosis (SSc) are secondary Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) and digital ulcers. Even though SSc is a rare disease, timely and appropriate management of its vascular complications is mandatory for reducing the rate of major impairment. It should therefore be aware to physicians from different specialties. We evaluated the diagnostic and therapeutic approach toward secondary RP and ulceration in SSc patients at 28 German clinical centers at the time of initiation of the German network for Systemic Scleroderma (DNSS). We retrieved data via questionnaires and from the DNSS patient registry. Management of RP and ulcerations in SSc were heterogeneous at initiation of the network, reflecting a sometimes insufficient use of the diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities. As such, (1) calcium channel blockers were the first line therapy in most centers; but often in insufficient dosages, and (2) only 21.2% of patients with acral ulceration had received prostacyclins when recruited into the network. The sometimes insufficient care of vascular complications of SSc in Germany revealed the need for their standardized management, e.g. within a network for SSc and for consensus on a diagnostic or therapeutic algorithm.

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