Background and objective: Renal failure, pulmonary hypertension, and interstitial lung disease are major causes of morbidity and mortality in systemic sclerosis (SSc). However, the concomitant occurrence of pulmonary hemorrhage associated with acute renal failure in SSc has been rarely described. The present study is the first analysis of pulmonary-renal syndrome in SSc.
Patient and methods: We present a 44-year-old woman with SSc who died of a fulminant course of acute renal failure associated with diffuse alveolar hemorrhage. We termed this uncommon and fatal complication of SSc scleroderma-pulmonary-renal syndrome (SPRS). A search of the English-written literature yielded reports of 10 additional similar cases. These patients, together with our present case, form the basis of the present analysis.
Results: The average age of the patients with SPRS was 46 years. The majority of the patients (80%) were women, and most had diffuse SSc. SPRS occurred an average of 6.4 years after disease onset and was associated with prior fibrosing alveolitis and/or D-penicillamine treatment. Interestingly, normotensive renal failure seems to characterize the scleroderma patients, because 9 of 11 (82%) had normal blood pressure. SPRS bears a poor prognosis: all of the 11 patients (100%) died within 12 months of admission. However, only 60% of the 5 patients for whom we have treatment data received corticosteroids.
Conclusions: Pulmonary-renal syndrome is a rare but fatal complication of SSc. Because the treatment data are scarce and the prognosis is poor, aggressive treatment with pulse corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, and possibly plasmapheresis is suggested.
Copyright 2001 by W.B. Saunders Company