Gastrointestinal involvement in systemic sclerosis

Presse Med. 2014 Oct;43(10 Pt 2):e279-91. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2014.03.029. Epub 2014 Aug 29.


Systemic sclerosis is an autoimmune chronic disease characterised by microvascular, muscular and immunologic abnormalities that lead to progressive and systemic deposition of connective tissue in the skin and internal organs. The gastrointestinal tract is often overlooked by physicians but it is the most affected organ after the skin, from the mouth to the anus. Indeed, 80% of SSc patients may present with gastrointestinal involvement. Gastrointestinal manifestations range from bloating and heartburn to dysphagia and anorectal dysfunction to severe weight loss and malabsorption. However, the gastrointestinal involvement is rarely the direct cause of death, but has great impact on quality of life and leads to several comorbidities that subsequently affect patients' survival. Treatments, including nutritional support and prokinetics provide limited benefits and do not arrest the progressive course of the disease, but earlier detection of gastrointestinal involvement may reduce the risk of complications such as malnutrition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Esophageal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Esophageal Diseases / etiology
  • Esophageal Diseases / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Liver Diseases / etiology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*
  • Stomach Diseases / etiology