scleroderma biopsy diagnosis

3 posts in this topic

Hi all.


I have just had the results of my skin biopsy confirming that I have morphea patches on my stomach and under my breast. What I would now like to know is how do they tell if it is localised or systemic?


I do have symptoms of systemic such as gastro-intestinal issues, breathlessness and heart rhythm problems - but I have had the morphea patches for 15 years now (long story why they have only just now been tested) and have had no drastic changes in my general wellbeing (which would suggest not the systemic kind).


I don't think I have ever had any blood tests for it - although around the same time the morphea started I was in and out of general practitioner's for tests for what I now think could have been scleroderma symptoms, but was diagnosed at the time with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).


So sorry to ramble but my head is spinning a mile a minute. Thanks in advance for any help.

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Hi Babyrosie101,


Welcome to these forums!


I'm sorry to hear that the results of your biopsy are confirmed as Morphea. Although morphea is considered to be localised Scleroderma, as opposed to systemic, nevertheless it is possible to have both morphea and systemic Scleroderma, as Amanda can testify.


We do recommend that our members, if possible, consult a Scleroderma specialist, as sadly many rheumatologists do not have the knowledge and expertise to deal with this complex and unusual disease. You may find that the Scleroderma specialist will work in conjunction with a dermatologist, in order to give you the best treatment.


It is common for people with Scleroderma to develop thyroid diseases, such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism The two main types of autoimmune thyroid disease fall into hyperthyroidism (Grave's disease), and hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's thyroiditis).


Although blood tests are a useful indication towards a diagnosis of Scleroderma, they're by no means conclusive, as people can have positive blood tests and yet not develop full blown Scleroderma and vice versa. A Scleroderma specialist would try to make a diagnosis on clinical symptoms as well as blood tests.


Thankfully, I don't have Morphea, so can't advise you from my own experience, but we do have many other members who sadly do suffer with this complaint and I'm sure they'll be along to give you some first hand advice. I'm pleased that you've found our forums and joined our community and I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.


Kind regards,

Jo Frowde

ISN Assistant Webmaster

SD World Webmaster

ISN Sclero Forums Manager

ISN News Manager

ISN Hotline Support Specialist

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

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Hello Babyrosie


Welcome to the forums! I have both diffuse scleroderma and morphea, so I have both systemic and localised forms of scleroderma.


Quoting from our page Conditions Associated with Morphea, :"A 2003 large multinational study found that 25% of localized patients had at least one other manifestation, such as osteoarticular, neurological (epilepsy, headache, peripheral neuropathy), ocular, vascular, gastrointestinal (heartburn), respiratory, cardiac, or renal. Less than 4% of the morphea patients had more than two non-cutaneous (non-skin) manifestations, and none of the patients in the study developed systemic scleroderma during the follow-up." So it's possible to have symptoms, usually associated with systemic scleroderma, with morphea.


I have what must now be over 20 plaques of morphea over my legs, if you have a look at my topic Morphea - localised scleroderma there is a link to photos of some of my plaques. I am now finding that they itch and are very sensitive. What treatment have you been given for yours and do they bother you?


Take care and keep posting.

Amanda Thorpe

ISN Sclero Forums Senior Support Specialist

ISN Video Presentations Manager

ISN Blogger

(Retired) ISN Sclero Forums Assistant Manager

(Retired) ISN Email Support Specialist

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

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