As one of the nation’s leading rheumatology centers, Duke specializes in diagnosing and treating scleroderma, an autoimmune skin disease that causes the skin to become thick and rigid. It may affect other vital organs such as the lungs, kidneys, gut, and heart. Our experienced rheumatologists have dedicated their lives to researching the causes of this rare condition and testing new therapies to improve your condition and help restore your quality of life.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Scleroderma can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. Your evaluation will begin with a review of your medical history and a comprehensive physical exam. Scleroderma may spread throughout the body, causing the formation of scar tissue that can damage vital organs. If you are diagnosed with this disorder, your doctor may order the following tests to determine the severity of your condition:
Your doctor may order blood tests to check for antibodies and signs of inflammation.
This ultrasound test of your heart function can help determine if scleroderma is affecting your heart.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Tests that measure how well your lungs are working can help determine whether the disease has affected your lungs.
A small tube equipped with a camera is inserted down your throat. This allows your doctor to view your esophagus and intestines to determine if they have been affected by scleroderma.
This test measures the strength of your swallowing muscles to determine if they have been affected by scleroderma.
A microscope is used to examine the blood vessels under your fingernail for signs of scleroderma.
Comprehensive Care for Scleroderma
If you have scleroderma, you need a health care team that’s skilled in diagnosing your disease and managing its effects. Our rheumatologists partner with specialists throughout Duke to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs and offers the best options for improving your quality of life.
A Team Approach
Scleroderma affects the skin and other tissues and organs throughout the body, including the lungs, nerves, and skin. Our physicians work closely with Duke psychiatrists, gastroenterologists, physical therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, dermatologists, and pulmonologists. Together, we develop the most appropriate care plan for you.
An Active Research Program
You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials that test new therapies for scleroderma. Our ongoing studies help us better understand the cause of scleroderma and uncover the most effective techniques for managing the disease.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our rheumatology program is rated as high performing among the nation's top hospitals, according to US News & World Report for 2021–2022.