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Gastrointestinal complications: the most frequent internal complications of systemic sclerosis.

Posted Dec 21 2009 12:00am

By Forbes A. and Marie I.

Manifestations of SSc in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are common, occurring in 50-90% of patients. They typically result from the fibrosis that characterizes this disease. Manifestations of SSc can affect many sites within the GI tract, and patients may experience substantial dysfunction in the processes of motility, digestion, absorption and excretion.

Oesophageal dysfunction is the most common GI manifestation, but patients may also experience dysfunction of the stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, each of which can be responsible for severe and distressing symptoms. At present, few specific therapeutic options are available for the treatment of these patients, but relief of symptoms is often possible with appropriate knowledge and support.

It is therefore particularly important to identify, monitor and manage these patients carefully, with a view to minimizing further degeneration and maximizing quality of life.

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