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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2015 Jan;54(1):72-6. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keu296. Epub 2014 Jul 26.

Digital ulcers as a sentinel sign for early internal organ involvement in very early systemic sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Rheumatology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.
  • 2Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Rheumatology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of digital lesions in very early diagnosis of SSc (VEDOSS) patients and its possible association with internal organ involvement.


One hundred and ten VEDOSS patients were investigated for the presence of digital ulcers (DUs), digital pitting scars, calcinosis, necrosis or gangrene, nailfold videocapillaroscopic abnormalities, disease-specific autoantibodies (ACA and anti-topo I) and internal organ involvement.


Four patients reported a history of digital pitting scars, while 25 patients presented an active DU or reported a history of DUs. In particular, 16 patients presented with active DUs (14/16 also reporting a history of previous DUs), while the other 9 patients reported a history of DUs only. A statistically significant association between DUs and oesophageal manometry alteration was found in the whole DU population, as well as in the history of DU and the presence of active DU with/without a history of DU subgroups (P < 0.01, P = 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). DUs were observed in VEDOSS patients with internal organ involvement but not in those without organ involvement.


DUs are already present in VEDOSS patients characterized by internal organ involvement, significantly correlating and associating with gastrointestinal involvement. DUs may be a sentinel sign for early organ involvement in VEDOSS patients.


digital ulcers; oesophageal involvement; very early systemic sclerosis

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