- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Diagnose Scleroderma
There are no specific tests that can completely confirm or eliminate the possibility of scleroderma.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose scleroderma by taking a careful history of your symptoms and performing a thorough physical examination. Your doctor will look for classic skin changes associated with scleroderma, including calcium deposits under the skin and changes in the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) at the base of your fingernails. The skin changes of scleroderma are often characteristic enough to allow your doctor to accurately diagnose the condition.
If there are any questions, your doctor may recommend other tests to confirm the diagnosis or to evaluate how severely your internal organs are involved.
Such tests may include:
Blood Tests -A number of blood tests can point towards the presence of scleroderma. These include:
- Rheumatoid factor
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- Antinuclear antibody
- Scleroderma antibody
- Anticentromere antibody
Imaging Tests -These tests can visualize the internal organs to see how the disease has affected them. Specific areas of the body to be examined with imaging tests may be chosen based on your symptoms. Imaging tests include:
- X-rays-a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
- CT Scans -a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
- MRI Scans -a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
- Nailfold capillaroscopy-This test involves looking at a magnified view of the nailfold to examine the capillaries.
Skin Biopsy -A small sample of skin may be removed and examined in a laboratory for specific characteristics that suggest scleroderma.