Esophageal Motor Abnormalities in Patients With Scleroderma: Heterogeneity, Risk Factors, and Effects on Quality of Life

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Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS:

Systemic scleroderma (SSc) is associated with esophageal aperistalsis and hypotensive esophagogastric junction pressure, although there could be a gradation in esophageal motor dysfunction. We characterized esophageal motor function by high-resolution esophageal manometry (HRM) and assessed associations between SSc severity, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and HRM findings in patients.

METHODS:

We performed a prospective study of 200 patients with SSc and 102 patients without SSc (controls) who underwent HRM at Mayo Clinic Arizona from May 2006 through January 2015. We used data on integrated relaxation pressure, distal contractile integral, and distal latency to classify esophageal motility disorders according to the Chicago Classification v 3.0. A subset of subjects (n = 122) completed SSc-specific gastrointestinal symptom and HRQOL questionnaires. HRM findings, symptoms, and HRQOL data were compared among diffuse SSc, limited SSc, and control subjects. Categorical variables were compared by using the χ2 or Fisher exact test; continuous variables were compared by using Mann-Whitney or Kruskal-Wallis test. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association between severity of esophageal dysmotility and baseline clinical factors.

RESULTS:

Among patients with SSc, 83 had diffuse SSc (42%), and 117 had limited SSc (58%). Absent contractility was more frequent in patients with SSc than in controls (56% vs 13%;P< .001). HRM findings varied among the patients; absent contractility (56%) was the most frequent diagnosis, followed by normal motility (26%) and ineffective esophageal motility (10%). Classic scleroderma esophagus (esophagogastric junction pressure with absent contractility) was only observed in 33% of patients (34% with diffuse SSc vs 32% limited SSc) (P= .880). Severe esophageal dysmotility was associated with disease duration, interstitial lung disease, and higher gastrointestinal symptom scores (P< .001). HRQOL was decreased in patients with SSc and severe esophageal dysmotility.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although severe dysmotility is more common in patients with SSc than in controls, we observed the so-called scleroderma esophagus in only one-third of patients with SSc. Esophageal motor function appears to be heterogeneous in SSc. Esophageal dysmotility reduces HRQOL in patients with SSc.

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