Objective: To assess the impact of digital ulcers (DUs) on disability and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods: Two hundred and thirteen patients with SSc were evaluated at four annual meetings of a patient society between 2004 and 2007 (n = 177) or during hospital stay (n = 36). HRQoL was assessed by the SF-36, global disability by the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ), hand disability by the Cochin Hand Function Scale (CHFS) and global hand and wrist mobility by the Kapandji index.
Results: Sixty-seven patients (31.4%) had at least one DU at the time of evaluation. Patients with DUs showed significantly more pitting scars (p<0.001) and calcinosis (p<0.0001) than others. Patients with DU had significantly greater HAQ (mean (SD) 1.218 (0.723) vs 0.930 (0.717), p = 0.008), CHFS (mean (SD) 27.38 (20.68) vs 16.73 (18.19), p<0.0001) and aesthetic prejudice (mean (SD) 6.1 (2.2) vs 3.9 (2.5), p<0.0001) scores than others. Hand and wrist mobility were significantly diminished in patients with DU (mean (SD) Kapandji score 75.3 (22.8) vs 81.7 (19.2), p<0.0001). The presence of a DU did not significantly alter the physical component but influenced the mental component (mean (SD) 43.38 (12.53) vs 39.58 (9.54), p = 0.026) of the SF36.
Conclusion: Patients with SSc with DUs have reduced wrist and hand mobility, increased global and hand disabilities and decreased mental component of HRQoL.
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