Author(s): Thompson AE, Pope JE
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To determine the frequency of pericardial and pleural effusions in scleroderma. METHODS: Using a case-control format, patients with scleroderma and no known cardiac disease were recruited. Echocardiograms and chest radiographs were performed. Age- and gender-matched controls had echocardiograms performed which were read by a cardiologist, blinded to the diagnosis. The medical records of 60 other scleroderma patients were also reviewed. RESULTS: Thirty-seven scleroderma subjects were recruited, of whom 18 had diffuse disease. Only eight subjects with diffuse disease and five with limited scleroderma had normal echocardiograms compared to 20 of 37 controls (P < 0.1). Two had pericardial effusions, both with diffuse scleroderma, and none of the controls had effusions present. Pulmonary hypertension occurred in three with diffuse disease and no controls. A chart review of a further 60 patients with scleroderma was performed. Pleural effusions were identified in 7\% (4/58) of the cohort of scleroderma patients and were more frequent in diffuse disease (10\%). A total of 17\% (4/23) of diffuse and 4\% (1/23) of limited scleroderma patients had evidence of pericardial effusions. CONCLUSIONS: Pericardial effusions do occur in scleroderma without evidence of clinical cardiac dysfunction and are more common in diffuse scleroderma. Pleural effusions in scleroderma occur less frequently, in 70\%.
This article was published in Br J Rheumatol
and referenced in Rheumatology: Current Research