Oesophageal dilatation on high-resolution CT chest in systemic sclerosis: What does it signify?

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To evaluate the significance of oesophageal dilatation on high-resolution CT (HRCT) chest in patients with systemic sclerosis.


We retrospectively retrieved the database of patients with systemic sclerosis seen at our hospital between January 2008 and January 2009. A total of 50 patients (46 women and four men) who had HRCT chest, pulmonary function testing and echocardiography within 1 month were included in the study. Peak pulmonary artery (PA) pressures and pulmonary function testing were charted. The HRCT chest was interpreted by a chest radiologist. Oesophageal dilatation was defined as a luminal coronal diameter of ≥9 mm in infra-aortic oesophagus. Extent of ground glass, reticulation and honeycombing was objectively scored.


Statistical analysis using independent t-test showed that diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide was significantly lower (P = 0.042) and peak PA pressures were significantly higher (P = 0.045) in patients with oesophageal dilatation (n = 29) as compared with those without oesophageal dilatation (n = 21). The two cohorts had no significant difference in their total lung capacity and HRCT determined extent of interstitial lung disease.


Patients with oesophageal dilatation on HRCT chest had significantly lower diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide and higher peak PA pressures, which suggest that these patients tend to have more severe pulmonary vascular disease.

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