Scleroderma is a rare disease in which a person's immune system begins to destroy normal, healthy tissues (autoimmune disease). As a result, connective tissue of the skin, lungs, and internal organs—especially the esophagus, kidneys, and digestive tract—is replaced with scar tissue. This change causes the tissues to become stiff and the muscles to not work as well.
In the esophagus, this makes it:
- Easier for stomach juice to get into the esophagus, because the valve between the esophagus and stomach ( lower esophageal sphincter ) does not close tightly.
- Harder to move stomach juices out of the esophagus because the squeezing motion of the esophagus (peristalsis) does not work as strongly.
CREST syndrome is a limited type of scleroderma that can also affect the esophagus.
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.