Like other unusual and complex autoimmune disorders, limited scleroderma can be difficult to diagnose. Signs and symptoms vary widely and often resemble those of other diseases. To complicate matters even more, limited scleroderma sometimes occurs with other autoimmune conditions — such as polymyositis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The diagnosis of limited scleroderma is generally made based on your signs and symptoms. In addition, tests that may help in the diagnosis of limited scleroderma include:
- Lab tests. A sample of your blood can be tested for antibodies that are frequently found in the blood of people with limited scleroderma. But this isn't a definitive test because not everyone with limited scleroderma has these antibodies.
- Skin biopsy. Sometimes doctors take a small sample of skin that's then examined under a microscope in a laboratory. Although biopsies can be helpful, they can't definitively diagnose limited scleroderma.
In addition to tests that may help diagnose limited scleroderma itself, your doctor may recommend additional tests to identify any lung, heart or gastrointestinal complications.
April 30, 2014
- Imboden JB, et al. Current Rheumatology Diagnosis & Treatment. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=809. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Handout on health: Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Scleroderma/default.asp#3. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Van don Hoogen F, et al. 2013 classification criteria for systemic sclerosis: An American college of rheumatology/European league against rheumatism collaborative initiative. Annals of the Rheumatic Disease. 2013;72:1747.
- Denton CP. Overview of the treatment and prognosis of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
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