Common Medical Tests for Scleroderma

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
These are commonly used for diagnosing or treating symptoms of Systemic Scleroderma
Antibodies/Blood Tests Tests/Antibodies
Cardiac (Heart)
Imaging (CT, MRI)
Pulmonary (Lung)
Skin Viscoelasticity
Medical Records & References

Antibodies and Blood Tests

Antibody Tests. ISN.

Antibody Tests for Scleroderma. ISN.

Lab Tests Online. A public resource for clinical lab tests. Search for a specific test and learn more about it. Lab Tests Online.

Immunotherapy of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Traditional immunosuppressants may prove more effective if used very early in the disease course. PubMed, Hum Vaccin Immunother, 2018 Jul 9:1-9. (Also see What is Scleroderma? and Difficult Diagnosis)


Microscope by Shelley EnszHowever, very few doctors know how to do a nailfold exam! Viewing the nailfolds with special instruments can disclose certain abnormalities of the small blood vessels, and specific findings can be very useful in diagnosing, classifying and staging forms of systemic scleroderma.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. such testing is frequently not covered by insurance companies, so there is widespread reluctance to do nailfold testing -- even though it is a very quick, easy, noninvasive, and economical way to diagnose and classify systemic forms of scleroderma.

There are occasional patients with changes visible to naked eye. Unfortunately, many doctors mistake prominent venular system (not signficant) with these changes. About 95% of patients need a nailfold exam with magnifying glass or ophthalmoscope on high diopter with oil or KY jelly on the nailbed to assess properly. However, very few doctors do this or even know how. (Also see What is Scleroderma? and Symptoms of Scleroderma)

Cuticles: Periungual Erythema
Fingernail Abnormalities
Causes of Fingernail Symptoms and Abnormalities
Lack of Fingerprints
Manicure Safety
Nail Biting
Nailfold Capillaroscopy

Cardiac (Heart)

Heart Disease Tests and Diagnosis. The tests you'll need to diagnose your heart disease depend on what condition your doctor thinks you might have. Mayo Clinic.

Cardiology Tests and Procedures Dozens of cardiac tests clearly explained, including Cardiac Catheterization, Coronary Artery Bypass Graft, Surgery (CABG), Dobutamine Stress Test, Echocardiogram (ECHO), Electrocardiogram (EKG), Electrophysiology Study (EPS), Heart Valve Disorders, Holter Monitoring, Nuclear Medicine Treadmill, Stress Tests (Cardiolite or Thallium), Nuclear Medicine IV Persantine, Stress Test (IVP), Pacemakers, Percutaneous Transluminal, Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA), Signal-Averaged Electrocardiogram, (SAEKG), Stents, Stress Echocardiogram, Transesophageal Echocardiogram, (TEE), and Treadmill Stress Test. Torrance Memorial Medical Center.


Gastrointestinal Scleroderma Imaging. Gastrointestinal scleroderma is the third most common manifestation of scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis (SSc), after skin changes and Raynaud phenomenon. Scleroderma can cause progressive atrophy and collagenous fibrous replacement of the muscularis, which may affect any part or all of the gastrointestinal tract but is more prominent in the esophagus. Medscape. (Also see GI Involvement)

Esophageal Dilation Esophageal dilatation is the technique used to stretch or open the blocked portion of the esophagus. Jackson Gastroenterology


Electromyography (EMG): What Is It, and Does It Hurt? So let's get down to the particulars. An electromyography test involves needles. The needles do puncture the skin. Moreover, they enter muscle tissue. But the testing is done with just one needle at a time and just one muscle at a time. Gary E Cordingley, MD, PhD.

Dubious Diagnostic Tests Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Imaging (CT, MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your head and body. Your doctor uses these detailed, clear images to identify and diagnose a wide range of conditions. Mayo Clinic.


Medications For others, see the symptoms pages. ISN.

Pulmonary (Lung)

Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT) A test designed to measure how well the lungs are working. MedicineNet.

Pulmonary Function Tests. Pulmonary function tests are tests performed to make measurements of how your lungs and airways function. Results from pulmonary function tests enable your physician to evaluate your breathing, make diagnosis, recommend treatment and follow your progress. This article tells you how to prepare for the test and how it is conducted. National Jewish Medical and Research Center.

Pulmonary Function Testing. Provides information on equipment, procedure and interpretation of pulmonary function tests. Thomas R. Gildea. Cleveland Clinic.

Pulmonary ventilation/perfusion scan. This involves two nuclear scan tests to measure breathing (ventilation) and circulation (perfusion) in all areas of the lungs. Medline Plus

Thoracentesis Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lining of the outside of the lungs (pleura) and the wall of the chest. Normally, very little fluid is present in this space. An accumulation of excess fluid between the layers of the pleura is called a pleural effusion. Medline (Also see Pleural Effusion)

Skin Viscoelasticity

An Ultrasound Surface Wave Technique (USWT) for Assessing Skin and Lung Diseases. USWE is a non-invasive and non-ionizing technique for measuring both skin and lung surface wave speed and may be useful for quantitative assessment of scleroderma and/or interstitial lung disease. PubMed, Ultrasound Med Biol, 2018 Feb;44(2):321-331. (Also see Diagnosis of Skin Fibrosis and Skin Viscoelasticity)

Medical Records & References

Medical Tests & Tools: A to Z. WebMD.

Go to Medical Tests: Scleroderma Antibodies

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