Diagnosis

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.

The diagnosis of limited scleroderma is generally made based on your signs and symptoms. During the physical exam, your doctor will look for changes in the texture, color and appearance of your skin. Tests that might aid in the diagnosis 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 examined under a microscope in a laboratory. Although biopsies can be helpful, they can't definitively diagnose limited scleroderma.

Your doctor might recommend additional tests to identify lung, heart, kidney or gastrointestinal complications.

May 18, 2017
References
  1. What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation. http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageNavigator/patients_whatis.html#.WG0T5ZK8zhc. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  2. Scleroderma. American College of Dermatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Scleroderma. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  3. Longo DL, et al., eds. Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) and related disorders. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  4. Systemic sclerosis: Diffuse and limited. Scleroderma Foundation. http://www.scleroderma.org/site/Search?query=Systemic+scleroderma,+diffuse+and+limited#.WG0UrpK8zhdv. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  5. Shah AA, et al. My approach to the treatment of scleroderma. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2013;88:377.
  6. AskMayoExpert. Scleroderma. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  7. 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 Jan. 4, 2017.
  8. Scleroderma. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/painful-skin-joints/scleroderma#tips. Accessed Jan. 5, 2017.
  9. Kidneys. Scleroderma Foundation. http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=body_kidney#.WHU6eZK8zhc. Accessed Jan. 10, 2017.