Digital calcification in systemic sclerosis: effective treatment with good tissue preservation using the carbon dioxide laser

Br J Dermatol. 1996 Aug;135(2):302-4.


Tissue calcification of the fingers associated with limited systemic sclerosis is a common problem and is the source of considerable morbidity as it may be extremely tender and cause considerable functional disability. The current treatment of digital calcification is unsatisfactory. We evaluated the use of the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser in the management of this condition in six patients with the limited form of systemic sclerosis. A total of 21 areas of symptomatic digital calcification of the fingers were treated. Complete resolution of symptoms occurred in 12, moderate response with partial improvement was seen in five, little improvement was observed in two, and recurrence of calcinosis was found in two. The patient's average healing time was 6 weeks (range 4-10). The median duration of follow-up was 20 months (range 12-40). Postoperative infection was seen in two patients, and resolved completely in both with the use of topical and oral antibiotics. We found the CO2 laser a simple and effective treatment for most of the symptomatic lesions of digital calcification, and it may obviate the need for deforming surgery in many cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcinosis / complications
  • Calcinosis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Hand Dermatoses / complications
  • Hand Dermatoses / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Recurrence
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome