Gastrointestinal manifestations of scleroderma: recent progress in evaluation, pathogenesis, and management

Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2012 Feb;14(1):22-9. doi: 10.1007/s11926-011-0217-3.


Gastrointestinal (GI) involvement is frequent in scleroderma (systemic sclerosis [SSc]) and is the most frequent internal complication of the disease. Patients with GI involvement have impaired quality of life, and their prognosis may be one of severe impairment. Unfortunately, GI involvement is often noticed when severe complications have already occurred, is irreversible, and is difficult to manage. The past 2 to 3 years have been rich in exciting studies that we hope will help identify, prevent, treat, and monitor disease progression. Recent studies on the pathophysiology of GI tract disease could lead to advances in the treatment of GI tract involvement. The importance of treating gastroesophageal reflux (GER) has been reinforced by studies showing GER damage in almost all SSc patients, and the fact that GER damage is reversible if early treatment with proton pump inhibitors is introduced. Moreover, recent data showing a link between GER and interstitial lung disease in SSc underscore the importance of aggressive GER treatment in SSc patients. A novel lung pattern possibly related to GER also has been described. New, exciting data on gastric vascular antral ectasia have been published. Finally, malnutrition in SSc patients has been highlighted, and anorectal involvement has been emphasized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*