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How is scleroderma diagnosed?

Based on complaints and symptoms, sometimes supported by lab test results. The latter, however, may be normal in some patients. Important is the early diagnosis of Raynaud's phenomenon. If the patient already suffered from it during childhood, it is not important. It need not be mentioned that the diagnosis of localised types of scleroderma is based on the injuries.

The diagnosis of the scleroderma syndrome is based on the finding of the clinical features of the illnesses. Nearly all patients with scleroderma have blood tests which suggest autoimmunity, antinuclear antibodies (ANAs). A particular antibody, the anticentromere antibody, is found almost exclusively in the limited, or CREST, form of scleroderma. Anti-Scl 70 antibody (antitopoisomerase I antibody) is most often seen in patients with the diffuse form of scleroderma.

As soon as the doctor suspects the diagnosis, additional examinations like lung function tests, heart check-up, examination of the kidneys and blood pressure need to be carried out. In case of muscle pains or nerve pains an electromyography and oesophageal manometry (pressure measurement) in case of swallowing difficulties are necessary. The results from these examinations may also contribute to a diagnosis.

Other tests are used to evaluate the presence or extent of any internal disease. These may include upper and lower gastrointestinal tests to evaluate the bowels, chest x-rays, and lung function tests to examine the lungs, EKG and echocardiograms to evaluate the heart and lung arteries.

More information on scleroderma

What is scleroderma? - Scheroderma is an acquired rare disease that occurs worldwide in sporadic and occasionally in familial cases. Scleroderma is a disease that causes fibrosis (hardening) of the skin.
What are the symptoms of scleroderma? - Scleroderma affects the skin, and in serious, life-threatening cases it affects the blood vessels and internal organs. The most evident symptom is the hardening of the skin.
How is scleroderma classified? - Patients with scleroderma may develop either a localized or a systemic form of the disease. There are two types of generalized scleroderma: limited and diffuse scleroderma.
What causes scleroderma? - Although the exact cause or causes of scleroderma are unknown, a complex interaction between environmental encounters and genetic and non-genetic host factors may lead to scleroderma.
How is scleroderma diagnosed? - The diagnosis of the scleroderma syndrome is based on the finding of the clinical features of the illnesses. The diagnosis of localised types of scleroderma is based on the injuries.
What is the treatment for scleroderma? - Scleroderma has no known cure. Doctors often treat localized scleroderma with therapies such as moisturizers or corticosteroid medications. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005