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Baillieres Clin Rheumatol. 1993 Feb;7(1):79-97.

Lung disease in systemic sclerosis (scleroderma).

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Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425.


Scleroderma (SSc) is a disease characterized by skin fibrosis but it is the end-organ effect of microvascular injury and fibrosis that is important prognostically. Pulmonary involvement in SSc patients, either of parenchymal fibrosis and/or pulmonary hypertension, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Interstitial lung disease occurs more commonly in patients with diffuse SSc and is associated with a loss of lung volume, as well as a defect of gas exchange. Parenchymal fibrosis may also cause pulmonary hypertension. Isolated pulmonary hypertension occurs exclusively in patients with limited SSc and is detectable by a reduced DCO. The early identification of either manifestation is difficult. Patients may have minimal symptoms, unremarkable physical findings, normal chest radiographs and/or minimally abnormal pulmonary function tests at a time when significant lung pathology is present. It is essential to attempt to identify pulmonary disease early, at a potentially reversible stage. Multiple therapeutic endeavours have yielded only short-term or minimal benefits in symptoms and pulmonary function, and thus a major alteration in SSc pulmonary prognosis has not been achieved. Further study of the pathogenesis of this disease manifestation will be helpful in its earlier identification and intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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