Calcinosis is a debilitating complication of systemic sclerosis (SSc) with no effective treatments. We sought to identify clinical correlations and to characterize complications and disability associated with calcinosis in a multi-center, international cohort of SSc patients.
We established a cohort of 568 consecutive SSc patients who fulfill 2013 revised ACR/EULAR criteria at 10 centers within North America, Australia, and Mexico. Calcinosis was defined as subcutaneous calcium deposition by imaging and/or physical examination, or a clear history of extruded calcium. All patients completed the Scleroderma Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index and Cochin Hand Functional Scale.
215 (38%) patients had calcinosis. In multivariable analysis, disease duration (OR=1.24, p = 0.029), digital ischemia (OR=1.8, p = 0.002) and Acro-osteolysis (OR=2.97, p = 0.008) were significantly associated with calcinosis. In the subset of patients with bone densitometry (n = 68), patients with calcinosis had significantly lower median T-scores than patients without (-2.2 vs. -1.7, p = 0.004). The most common location of calcinosis lesions was the hands (70%), particularly the thumbs (19%) with decreasing frequency moving to the fifth fingers (8%). The most common complications were tenderness (29% of patients) and spontaneous extrusion of calcinosis through the skin (20%), while infection was rare (2%). Disability and hand function were worse in patients with calcinosis, particularly if locations in addition to the fingers/thumbs were involved.
We confirmed a strong association between calcinosis and digital ischemia. Calcinosis in SSc patients most commonly affects the hands and is associated with a high burden of disability and hand dysfunction.
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