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Ann Rheum Dis. 1997 Dec;56(12):723-8.

Survival prognostic factors and markers of morbidity in Spanish patients with systemic sclerosis.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital General Universitari Vall D'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.



To identify survival prognostic factors and markers of morbidity among patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).


The study included 72 patients diagnosed with SSc. According to the extent of skin involvement, three groups of patients were established: group 1, without sclerosis and with sclerosis of fingers and neck; group 2, with sclerosis of face and distal to elbows and knees; group 3, with generalised sclerosis including the trunk. All patients were included in a study protocol to determine visceral involvement. Cumulative survival after first symptom has been estimated according to the Kaplan-Meier method. The association between a hypothetical prognostic factor and cumulative survival after first symptom was assessed by log rank test. The association between a hypothetical risk factor and the prevalence of severe morbidity was assessed by the odds ratio. Multiple logistic regression models were used to identify the main predictors of severe morbidity.


Survival was estimated to be 85% 10 years after first SSc symptom. Survival was higher among SSc patients with skin involvement distal to elbows and knees than among the rest of patients; a forced vital capacity (FVC) on spirometry lower than 70% of expected value was associated with a shorter survival, even after adjustment for diffuse SSc. Skin involvement proximal to elbows or knees was associated with a higher prevalence of severe morbidity (OR = 46.57; p < 0.001). According to a multiple logistic regression, severe morbidity was higher among patients with skin involvement proximal to knees or elbows (OR = 40.92; p < 0.001) or among patients with pulmonary hypertension detected by Doppler echocardiography (OR = 23.66 p < 0.001).


In patients with SSc the extent of skin sclerosis was found to be a determining factor on the prognosis. According to skin sclerosis extent two main subsets of SSc patients with different survival incidence and degree of morbidity could be clearly established: limited SSc, formed by patients with no skin sclerosis or with sclerosis distal to elbows and knees and diffuse SSc, formed by patients with skin sclerosis distal and proximal to elbows and knees. Moreover, lung involvement (FVC < 70% on survival study and pulmonary hypertension on morbidity study) was an important and independent prognostic factor.

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