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Abstract

Objective

The esophagus is the most commonly affected gastrointestinal area in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Patients with SSc frequently develop gastroesophageal reflux, esophageal injury, and sometimes, intestinal metaplasia, or Barrett's esophagus (BE), which may increase the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma. This study sought to determine the prevalence of BE and esophageal adenocarcinoma in a cohort of SSc patients.

Methods

One hundred ten SSc patients who were receiving long-term treatment with proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) were assessed systematically by esophageal manometry and endoscopy. Esophageal biopsies were performed when macroscopic abnormalities were detected, and BE was diagnosed histologically.

Results

Among the 110 patients, 14 had BE (12.7%). None of the patients with BE had adenocarcinoma, but 3 of the 14 patients (21%) had dysplasia on esophageal biopsy. Similar proportions of patients with and without BE had abnormal peristalsis and decreased lower esophageal sphincter pressure. No association between BE and other disease characteristics was demonstrated.

Conclusion

In this study, 12.7% of SSc patients who had been treated with PPIs for long periods had BE, similar to the prevalence in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Although none of the patients had esophageal adenocarcinoma, patients with BE should be followed up closely, particularly patients with dysplasic BE. Long-term prospective studies are warranted to determine the phenotype of SSc patients at high risk of developing dysplasia or esophageal adenocarcinoma.