What is the role of surgery in the treatment of scleroderma?

Updated: Sep 09, 2019
  • Author: Sergio A Jimenez, MD, MACR, FACP, FRCP(UK Hon); Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Digital sympathectomy and botulinum toxin injections may be used in patients with severe Raynaud phenomenon who have an unrelenting acute attack and who are threatened by digital loss. Many ulcers require management by a wound care specialist. Debridement or amputation may be required in severe ischemic or infected digital lesions. Digital sympathectomy may be indicated in severe cases.

Hand surgery may be performed to correct severe flexion contractures.

Removal of severely painful, draining or infected calcinotic deposits is occasionally required.

Surgical fundoplication may be required to treat severe esophageal reflux with complicating aspiration pneumonitis. Laser ablation or even gastric antrectomy may be required to control persistent bleeding caused by gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE).

Episodes of acute abdominal pain need to be evaluated with extreme care to avoid the misdiagnosis of an acute abdomen since occasionally patients with systemic sclerosis present with symptoms of acute abdomen that resolve with proper medical treatment and do not require surgical intervention (pseudo acute abdomen).

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