alexa Assessment of gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with systemic sclerosis in a UK tertiary referral centre
Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology

Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System

Author(s): Nora M Thoua

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Objectives. The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is affected in up to 90% of patients with SSc to a variable extent and severity. We aimed to establish the frequency and range of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in SSc patients at the Royal Free Hospital, a tertiary referral centre.

Methods. A 52-item, previously validated, questionnaire capturing SSc-related gut dysfunction was given to consecutive patients with SSc attending the rheumatology outpatient department. The questionnaire assesses the ‘frequency’ of five categories of symptoms and their ‘impact’ on social functioning and emotional well-being. Patients’ notes were reviewed to establish disease subtype, autoantibody profile and other internal organ involvement.

 

Results. We collected 402 completed questionnaires (357 females; mean age 55). Sixty-nine per cent of patients had lcSSc and 30% dcSSc with mean disease duration of 11 years. Mean questionnaire scores showed that patients have a wide range of GI symptoms. Ninety-four per cent of patients reported upper and 79% lower GI symptoms, 3% of patients reported no symptoms and 10% reported daily symptoms. There was no association between disease subtype or autoantibody profile and GI symptoms. There was a positive correlation between diarrhoea scores (high scores = best health) and pulmonary fibrosis (r = 0.134, P = 0.0068). No other association between GI symptoms and other internal organ involvement was found.

 

Conclusions. GI symptoms, both upper and lower, are common in patients with SSc. Patients should be asked specifically about GI symptoms as they may be under-reported and therefore under-treated. GI focused questionnaire is an effective way to assess gut symptoms and adjust treatment.

This article was published in Rheumatology and referenced in Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System

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