Skin Viscoelasticity in Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma)

Author: Jo Frowde. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Early Diagnosis of SSc


large colorful clownSkin is the largest organ in our body. It protects us from environmental factors, like sunshine and chemicals.

It is like elastic, in that it stretches and then snaps back to its original shape and size, which is called viscoelasticity.

Sometimes our skin loses its elasticity. This is usually caused by either dehydration, swelling, or disease. Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) is one of the diseases that can reduce the skin's ability to stretch, even before it causes noticeable skin hardening or tightening.

Therefore, detecting subtle changes in reduced skin viscoelasticity can help diagnose scleroderma at an earlier stage. (Also see What is Scleroderma?, Skin Fibrosis, and Sclerodactyly)

Measurement of Skin Viscoelasticity

Skin viscoelasticity: physiologic mechanisms, measurement issues, and application to nursing science. The Cutometer® is an option for measuring viscoelasticity in clinical and bench research protocols. PubMed, Biol Res Nurs.

Early Diagnoses of Systemic Sclerosis

Ultrasound Surface Wave Elastography for Assessing Scleroderma (SSc). We will further study if skin viscosity is sensitive enough to detect early edema from inflammation changes of SSc. PubMed, Ultrasound Med Biol, 2020 May;46(5):1263-1269.

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 Common Tests)


Ultrasound Elastography: A Novel Tool for the Differential Diagnosis of Pleural Effusion. Pleural ultrasound elastography is a better technique than thoracic ultrasound for differentiating malignant pleural effusion from benign pleural disease. PubMed, Eur Respir J, 2019 Aug 22;54(2):1802018.

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