Early systemic sclerosis: assessment of clinical and pre-clinical organ involvement in patients with different disease features
AbstractAbstract Objective. To assess internal organ involvement in early SSc at presentation. Methods. One hundred and fifteen patients admitted to a tertiary centre because of RP, who did not present any routinely detectable scleroderma-related internal organ involvement, were investigated for ANA and videocapillaroscopy, and underwent history and physical examination to detect symptoms/signs suggestive of SSc. Patients were then subdivided into three groups: (i) early SSc, constituted by patients without clinical manifestations other than RP, but with scleroderma marker autoantibodies and/or typical capillaroscopic abnormalities; (ii) probable SSc, constituted by patients with the same autoantibody and/or capillaroscopic status as early SSc patients, but with any of the following manifestations: digital ulcers/scars, puffy fingers, arthritis, telangiectasia, dysphagia/heartburn, shortness of breath; (iii) UCTD, constituted by patients with a specific (i.e. disease antibody marker) ANA and capillaroscopic findings plus any disease manifestation. All patients were investigated by lung functional study and B-mode echo-Doppler-cardiography. Patients who consented underwent oesophageal manometry. Results. An inverted mitral E : A ratio (i.e. early scleroderma cardiac involvement) and/or a diffusing lung capacity for CO <80% of the predictive value (i.e. early lung involvement) and/or basal low oesophageal sphincter pressure <15 mmHg (i.e. early oesophageal involvement) were detected in 37/51 probable SSc patients (72%), 8/19 early SSc patients (42%) and 12/45 UCTD patients (27%). Conclusion. A scleroderma-related internal organ involvement was detected in patients from each group and, more importantly, was pre-clinical in a number of cases.