Scleroderma is a systemic inflammatory disorder that can compromise the gastrointestinal tract in up to 90% of patients.
The purpose of this work is to characterize esophageal, gastric, and intestinal compromise in patients with scleroderma by means of minimally invasive methods and its association with symptoms and severity of their rheumatological condition.
Patients with systemic sclerosis were recruited according to the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology. The study of digestive involvement was carried out on four consecutive days: esophageal manometry was performed on the first day, intestinal manometry on the second day, surface electrogastrography on the third, and hydrogen breath test on the fourth. The Mann–Whitney test was used for quantitative variables and the chi-squared test for categorical variables (p < 0.05).
A total of 30 patients were included, with an average age of 52.7 years and 93% women. Average disease evolution duration was 6.5 years, 70% with limited variety. Rodnan averaged 12 points, being higher in the diffuse variety. The main symptom was heartburn, followed by abdominal distension, with no differences between subtypes except for diffuse nausea; 80% had intestinal manometric compromise, 76% esophageal manometric compromise, and 30% electrogastrographic compromise. Bacterial overgrowth was evidenced in two-thirds (66%) of the patients, and 23% of the patients had simultaneous esophageal, gastric, and intestinal involvement, which correlated with greater skin involvement but not with gastrointestinal symptoms.
Gastrointestinal involvement in patients with scleroderma is frequent and is observed regardless of the symptoms and clinical characteristics of the latter, except for skin involvement.