Gastrointestinal manifestations of scleroderma

Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 1998 Sep;27(3):563-94. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8553(05)70021-2.


Gastrointestinal involvement is commonly found in scleroderma. Gastrointestinal symptoms may be the presenting symptoms for the diagnosis and may precede the actual diagnosis by months to years. The esophagus is the most frequently affected, but functional problems of the anorectum, small bowel, colon, and stomach may occur. The pathophysiologic mechanism appears to be one of smooth muscle atrophy and, to a lesser degree, fibrosis. These changes result in gastrointestinal motility disturbances and may cause GERD, pseudo-obstruction, bacterial overgrowth, and defecatory disorders. Malnutrition may be a serious consequence. The evaluation of a particular symptom in a patient with scleroderma may lead to treatment strategies that improve the patient's sense of well-being and quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Digestive System Diseases / etiology*
  • Esophageal Diseases / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Support
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*