Reversible hypercapnic respiratory insufficiency in scleroderma caused by respiratory muscle weakness

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1984 Jul;130(1):142-4. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1984.130.1.142.


A patient with scleroderma presented with hypercapnic respiratory failure. Evaluation of pulmonary mechanics revealed severe restriction caused in part by respiratory muscle weakness. Treatment with prednisone corrected hypoventilation, improved symptoms, increased lung volumes, returned respiratory muscle strength to normal range, but did not change the degree of lung stiffness. This case demonstrates that restrictive patterns in scleroderma can be due to either lung or chest wall disease and that the latter may be reversible. If respiratory muscle weakness is present with restrictive ventilatory patterns in patients with scleroderma, a therapeutic trial of corticosteroid is warranted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / complications*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / drug therapy
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology


  • Prednisone