Treatment algorithms for systemic sclerosis according to experts

Scleroderma Algorithm Group

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160 Citations (SciVal)


Objective: There is a lack of agreement regarding treatment for many aspects of systemic sclerosis (SSc). We undertook this study to generate SSc treatment algorithms endorsed by a high percentage of SSc experts. Methods: Experts from the Scleroderma Clinical Trials Consortium and the Canadian Scleroderma Research group (n = 170) were asked whether they agreed with SSc algorithms from 2012. Two consensus rounds refined agreement; 62, 54, and 48 experts (36%, 32%, and 28%, respectively) completed the first, second, and third surveys, respectively. Results: For treatment of scleroderma renal crisis, 81% of experts agreed (first-, second-, and third-line treatments were angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, then adding calcium-channel blockers [CCBs], then adding angiotensin receptor blockers [ARBs], respectively). For pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), 81% of experts agreed (for mild PAH, treatments were phosphodiesterase 5 [PDE5] inhibitors, then endothelin receptor antagonists plus PDE5 inhibitors, then prostanoids, respectively; for severe PAH, prostanoids were first-line treatment). For mild Raynaud's phenomenon (RP), 79% of experts agreed (treatments were CCBs, then adding PDE5 inhibitors, then ARBs or switching to another CCB, respectively; after the third line of treatment, mild RP was deemed severe). For severe RP, the first- through fourth-line treatments were CCBs, then adding PDE5 inhibitors or prostanoids, then adding PDE5 inhibitors (if not added as second-line treatment) or prostanoids (if not added as second-line treatment), then switching to another CCB, respectively. For active treatment of digital ulcers, 66% of experts agreed (first- and second-line treatments were CCBs and PDE5 inhibitors, respectively). For interstitial lung disease, 69% of experts agreed (for induction therapy, treatments were mycophenolate mofetil [MMF], intravenous cyclophosphamide [IV CYC], and rituximab, respectively; for maintenance, first-line treatment was MMF). For skin involvement, 71% of experts agreed (for a modified Rodnan skin thickness score [MRSS] of 24, first- and second-line treatments were methotrexate [MTX] and MMF, respectively; for an MRSS of 32, first- through fourth-line treatments were MMF, MTX, IV CYC, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, respectively). For inflammatory arthritis, 79% of experts agreed (first- through fourth-line treatments were MTX, low-dose glucocorticoids, hydroxychloroquine, and rituximab or tocilizumab, respectively). Algorithms for cardiac and gastrointestinal involvement had ≥75% agreement. Conclusion: Total agreement for SSc algorithms was considerable. These algorithms may guide treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1820-1828
Number of pages9
JournalArthritis & Rheumatology
Issue number11
Early online date21 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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