What kind of problems with the liver occur in scleroderma?

Module: Dysphagia and the Digestive Tract

Janet L. Poole, PhD, OTR/L, and Cindy Mendelson, PhD, RN, and Dinesh Khanna, MD, MS

The liver plays an important role in the detoxification of drugs in our body. About 10 percent of scleroderma patients may have liver involvement, known as primary biliary cirrhosis. If this very uncommon complication occurs, it usually occurs 10 to 15 years after the onset of scleroderma. Some patients may develop biliary cirrhosis before a diagnosis of scleroderma.


Liver involvement symptoms usually consist of itchy skin and fatigue.


The diagnosis can be made by blood tests for anti-mitochondrial and anti-smooth muscle antibody.


Treatment consists of doses of ursodeoxycholic acid.