Good morning ladies and gentlemen, the topic that I have chosen to present this morning is one that is very dear to my heart, for in my relatively short existence on this earth I have watched my aunt battle a disease which literally changed every aspect of her life and day to day living. Scleroderma is a chronic auto-immune disease of the connective tissue. Coming from two Greek words ‘sclera’ and ‘derma’ which mean ‘hard’ and ‘skin’ respectively, scleroderma in actuality is the hardening of the skin. One can therefore just imagine the devastating effects that this can have on the body given that the skin is the largest organ. Further to this, every vital organ within the body is covered in some form of skin or membrane, therefore this type of hardening or development of scar tissue can extend internally and become systemic or system wide and life threatening.
In my aunt’s case the disease exists in the localized form which is primarily characterised by an acronym called C.R.E.S.T. which is: Calcinosis: - calcium deposits under the skin.
Raynaud’s phenomenon: - constriction of capillaries in cold conditions in the extremities which causes decreased blood flow and eventual amputation of the digit. Esophageal Dysfunction: - difficulty swallowing.
Sclerodactyl: - stiffness and swelling of joints which restricts the range of motion. Telangiectasia: - red-like spots on the skin due to dilution of capillaries near the skin’s surface. In 10% of all patients’ with localized scleroderma, there is some lung involvement i.e. some restriction in breathing that can worsen with time. Also most studies have shown that if the disease begins as the localized type and remains that way for a significant period of time then it is highly unlikely that it will progress to systemic scleroderma where the...