Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between esophageal dysfunction and pulmonary involvement in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods: Pulmonary function parameters were compared between groups of patients with and without manometric evidence for SSc-induced esophageal dysmotility.
Results: Twenty-six of 43 patients (60.5%) exhibited a marked hypo- or aperistalsis of the smooth muscle portion of the esophagus. Total lung capacity, inspiratory vital capacity, and forced vital capacity were significantly lower in patients with esophageal dysfunction compared with those with normal esophageal peristalsis (p < 0.001). Patients with the diffuse form of SSc (n = 20) had significantly lower values for total lung capacity and inspiratory vital capacity compared with patients with the limited type of SSc (n = 23; p < 0.05).
Conclusion: There is a significant association of esophageal dysmotility with reduced lung volumes in SSc. Possible explanations for these findings are pulmonary damage due to increased gastroesophageal reflux and, more likely, simultaneous involvement of the lungs and the esophagus in the disease process.