Scleroderma - 2001 National Meeting Reports (cont.)

Bowel Disease

Erythromycin helped scleroderma stomach more effectively than the bowel muscle-stimulator drug, metoclopramide.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: Stomach and bowel muscles can become weakened as a result of scleroderma, thereby resulting in loss of normal function of the bowels. It is a serious condition. Doctors have used bowel muscle-stimulating drugs, such as metoclopramide, in the past. Doctors have also used antibiotics (I use tetracycline or erythromycin). The reason for the antibiotics is that the bowel of scleroderma patients can become overgrown with bacteria, which is associated with slowing the bowel function. The antibiotics seem to improve this condition. This study is a head-to-head comparison of the two options. It is encouraging to see that common antibiotics can be beneficial in this condition.

Stem Cell Transplantation

The outcome of 19 scleroderma patients receiving stem cell transplantation at various university centers was reported.

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: Some of the studied patients had progressive scleroderma disease. 2 of the subjects died. Some stabilized their disease. A few had improvement of their skin and function. Stem cell transplantation is known to be extremely dangerous and requires powerful doses of immune-suppressing drugs. This study argues for more studies that could distinguish which patients might really benefit from this procedure.

For more, please visit the Scleroderma Center.

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Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2004