High-resolution ultrasound imaging of skin involvement in systemic sclerosis: a systematic review

Monika Dźwigała, Piotr Sobolewski, Maria Maślińska, Ida Yurtsever, Elżbieta Szymańska, Irena Walecka
Rheumatology International2021
To collect evidence on the application of ultrasound in skin assessment in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). The authors carried out a review of the literature via Pubmed MEDLINE database. The search terms were: skin imaging in systemic sclerosis, ultrasound skin imaging in patients with systemic sclerosis. The selection and analysis of articles were performed by two independent evaluators. The authors analyzed 10 studies characterizing 470 patients with systemic sclerosis. The patients were young adults, mainly women. The described methods of ultrasound were: ultrasound elastography (7.14%), ultra-high-frequency (7.14%) and B-mode ultrasonographic imaging (21.43%), high-frequency ultrasonography (21.43%), shear-wave elastography (21.43%) and others (21.43%). Skin measurements reported in the analyzed studies were: skin ultrasound in all studies, skin thickness (8 studies), skin elasticity (5 studies), skin stiffness (2 studies), subcutaneous tissue thickness (1 study). Ultrasound measurements were compared to different types of scales and measurements used in the description of disease progression. Ultrasound may be used in the clinical assessment of skin involvement in SSc. To the best of our knowledge, articles currently reporting the use of ultrasound in skin imaging show interesting ideas and pro- vide basis for further research. Skin involvement in SSc assessed with ultrasound should be compared to skin biopsy. It is necessary to develop guidance for conducting skin measurements using ultrasound in patients with scleroderma. Currently, skin imaging in SSc is of limited clinical use due to a variety of methods and the lack of a standard operating procedure. The authors of analyzed studies suggested that high-frequency ultrasound provided a quantitative and reliable evaluation of dermal thickness in patients with SSc.

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