Background Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a multisystem disease and pulmonary manifestations are common in SSc patients. Involvement of the lungs in SSc patients is detected with x-ray and functional pulmonary testing. The relationship of the development of the pulmonary abnormalities to duration of the disease and other organ involvement remains unclear.
Objectives The present study was designed to determine the pulmonary function indices in the SSc patients without symptoms of the lung involvement.
Methods Twenty-six women with definite diagnosis of SSc, aged 45.4+11.2 yrs were studied. Control values were obtained from 20 healthy age-matched women. Additionally, the SSc group was compared to the predicted spirometric data based on large population studies. The resting pulmonary function tests were performed with EDS-Sprint spirograph. The measurements were done between 8.00–9.00 AM.
Results Vital capacity and maximal voluntary ventilation were decreased in the SSc patients. Forced vital capacity and one-second forced expiratory volume were also decreased but the later was normal when corrected for reduction of the forced vital capacity. Forced expiratory rate at 50% and 75% of forced vital capacity was impaired in the patients. Forced expiratory flow rate at 25% of forced vital capacity did not differ from the controls. The rate of incidence of abnormal pulmonary functional test in the SSc patients was 30–70 per cent.
Conclusion Pulmonary involvement is common in SSc patients without overt manifestation of the lung disease. The lung function testing is a simple, cheap and safe method for evaluation of the respiratory system, and is recommended as a routine test for all patients with SSc.
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