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Early endoscopy in systemic sclerosis without gastrointestinal symptoms.

Investigation into the upper GI-tract of patients suffering from systemic sclerosis [SSc] and mixed connective tissue disease [MCTD] without symptoms of GI-tract involvement early in the course of the disease to diagnose inflammatory and motility disorders. We retrospectively analysed patients with SSc and MCTD who underwent oesophago-gastro-duodenoscopy [OGD] within a year of the first diagnosis. Patients with a Rodnan skin score above 5, proton pump inhibitors and treatment regimes potentially harmful to the mucosa of the upper GI-tract were excluded. Mucosal damage of the oesophagus was classified according to the Los Angeles Classification. Oesophageal dysmotility was assessed during OGD and confirmed by video cineradiography. A total of thirteen patients with SSc and six with MCTD fulfilled the inclusion criteria. OGD revealed reflux-oesophagitis in 77%, dysmotility of the distal oesophagus in 85%, gastritis in 92% [31% erosive gastritis] and Helicobacter pylori positivity in 38% of our patients suffering from SSc. Patients with MCTD showed features of reflux-oesophagitis, dysmotility of the distal oesophagus, gastritis and dysmotility of the stomach in 0.6%. In all thirteen patients with SSc, significant pathology of the upper GI-tract was found. The results of this study might indicate that OGD should be performed early in patients diagnosed with SSc, even if they do not report typical symptoms. An early diagnose of GI involvement might be followed by an effective therapy and therefore subsequently may improve the prognosis.

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