Approach to a patient with connective tissue disease

T Sathish Kumar, Amita Aggarwal
Indian Journal of Pediatrics 2010, 77 (10): 1157-64
Connective tissue disease (CTDs), though rare in childhood, are an important cause of morbidity. Most of them involve multiple organ systems and are associated with presence of autoantibodies. Systemic lupus eryethematosus (SLE) is the most common CTD, the others being Juvenile dermatomyositis, systemic sclerosis, mixed connective disease and Sjogren syndrome. The clinical presentation of CTD in childhood can range from an acute severe illness mimicking a serious infection, to an insidious onset of disease with gradual accumulation of symptoms and signs over wks to months. The presence of multi-system involvement, evidence of inflammation and lack of any obvious cause should alert a clinician to the possibility of CTD. Diagnosis is usually clinical and features like malar rash, Raynaud's phenomenon, Gottron's rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers suggest a possibility of CTD. Presence of autoantibodies like anti-nuclear antibodies, anti-dsDNA etc. provide supportive evidence to a diagnosis of CTD. Most CTDs are treated with immunosuppressive drugs with good success. Early recognition and prompt treatment results in excellent outcome.

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