Esophageal dysmotility and lung disease in patients with systemic sclerosis: is there a possible association or correlation? A retrospective chart review

Rheumatol Int. 2021 May 25. doi: 10.1007/s00296-021-04880-w. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Our aim was to evaluate the relationship between esophageal dysmotility and lung disease by correlating the results of Echocardiogram and Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) with Esophageal Transit Study (ETT).

Methods: Charts of Systemic Sclerosis (SSc) patients fulfilling 2013 ACR/EULAR classification criteria seen in Rheumatology clinics were reviewed and their demographics, ETT result, PFT, and echocardiogram data were collected at baseline, years 1, 3, 5, and 10. Patients were divided based on their ETT status and were compared with respect to each variable using a two-sided two-sample t test for continuous variables and a Fisher's exact test for categorical variables.

Results: 130 patients were identified with either limited cutaneous SSc (109) or diffuse cutaneous SSc (21) with a mean age of 52.65 years. The mean DLCO was statistically worse in abnormal ETT patients [p value = 0.0004] as were the progression rates per year for DLCO at - 2.25 (p value = 0.019). Progression rate of FVC per year was statistically significant in the abnormal ETT group, although the mean value was not. The number of patients with abnormal PASP was not statistically different between the two groups (p values 0.104, 0.178, 0.653 at baseline, years 3 and 5, respectively).

Conclusion: The presence of esophageal dysmotility was associated with increased pulmonary involvement in the form of abnormal DLCO with worsening progression rates per year. There was no statistically significant difference in PASP and FVC between the two groups; however, the progression rate for FVC was worse in adjusted models.

Keywords: Esophageal dysmotility; Interstitial lung disease; Pulmonary artery hypertension; Pulmonary function test; Systemic sclerosis.