Progressive systemic sclerosis sine scleroderma presenting as pulmonary interstitial fibrosis

Am J Med. 1989 Nov;87(5):525-7. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(89)80608-4.


Purpose: The purpose of this work was to report the clinical features of 10 patients with systemic sclerosis presenting with lung disease in the absence of cutaneous involvement (systemic sclerosis sine scleroderma).

Patients and methods: The study involved a retrospective review of patients with systemic sclerosis at a tertiary care facility presenting with clinical and/or radiographic evidence of interstitial lung disease in the absence of cutaneous manifestations of scleroderma, and a MEDLINE, computer search for patients who presented with lung disease and later developed taut skin (scleroderma).

Results: Ten patients with systemic sclerosis sine scleroderma presenting with pulmonary signs or symptoms were discovered. A positive antinuclear antibody (seven of eight), esophageal dysmotility (eight of nine), restrictive lung disease (six of eight), Raynaud's phenomenon (five of eight), and abnormal nailfold capillaries (six of six) were present in these patients. Six of these 10 patients developed typical scleroderma from four months to seven years after presentation. Lung pathology was examined in six patients and all had changes consistent with interstitial pneumonitis and fibrosis. Four of the 10 patients had occupations that could have exposed them to potential pulmonary toxins. In contrast to patients with typical scleroderma, all 10 patients we discovered were men. conclusions: Systemic sclerosis should be considered in patients with idiopathic interstitial lung disease even in the absence of classic sclerodermatous cutaneous involvement. An esophagram, antinuclear antibody, and widefield nailfold examination may facilitate the diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis*