Gastrointestinal involvement in systemic sclerosis: an update

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2019 Nov;31(6):561-568. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000645.


Purpose of review: This review provides important updates in systemic sclerosis (SSc)-related gastrointestinal disease, specifically focusing on the most recent literature.

Recent findings: In the past year, several studies were published that present interesting insights into SSc and gastrointestinal disease. Studies focusing on newly identified risk factors, novel approaches to diagnosis and assessment of disease activity, survival and quality of life demonstrate progress in our understanding of this challenging area. Additional data on specific SSc gastrointestinal-related topics, such as the link between gastrointestinal and pulmonary disease, nutrition, and the microbiome, are also now available.

Summary: SSc gastrointestinal disease is heterogeneous in its clinical presentation, which presents a challenge in diagnosis and management. In the past year, several studies have evaluated risk factors and clinical features associated with specific gastrointestinal complications in SSc. Objective gastrointestinal testing may help to identify specific SSc gastrointestinal subgroups and provide diagnostic accuracy to guide targeted therapies. Survival in very early SSc is affected by the severity of gastrointestinal involvement. Other important gastrointestinal subsets, including patients with esophageal disease and interstitial lung disease, should carefully be considered when developing a management plan for this patient population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis