Gastrointestinal involvement in systemic sclerosis: diagnosis and management

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2018 Nov;30(6):533-540. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000545.


Purpose of review: This review provides important updates in systemic sclerosis (SSc)-related gastrointestinal disease, with a particular focus on the diagnosis and management of dysmotility.

Recent findings: In the past 2 years, several studies were published that present interesting diagnostic insights into SSc and gastrointestinal dysmotility. Studies focusing on new therapies and the novel application of existing therapies, both in SSc and non-SSc-associated gastrointestinal dysmotility syndromes, demonstrate progress in the management of these challenging complications.

Summary: SSc gastrointestinal disease is heterogeneous in its clinical presentation, which presents a challenge in diagnosis and management. Objective studies may help to identify patterns of gastrointestinal dysmotility and more specifically target therapy. A variety of drugs are now available or are under study in the management of gastrointestinal dysmotility, such as prucalopride, intravenous immunoglobulin, pyridostigmine, linaclotide, relamorelin, and others. These drugs may improve symptoms and quality of life in SSc gastrointestinal patients. Combination therapies are also under study. Electroacupuncture, dietary intervention (e.g. medical nutrition therapy, low FODmap diet), and medical cannibus may also play a role in alleviating patient symptoms; however, more data are needed to define the role of these interventions in SSc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Techniques, Digestive System*
  • Disease Management*
  • Electroacupuncture / methods*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases* / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Therapy / methods*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*


  • Gastrointestinal Agents