A novel approach to measuring skin elasticity in systemic sclerosis: results from a pilot study

B. Galarraga, S. McSwiggan, F. R. Caswell, R. C. Brodie, P. Sharma, E. W. Abel, D. J. Newton, J. J. F. Belch

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    Objectives: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterized by progressive fibrosis of various organs, and causes hard, tethered, and inelastic skin. The modified Rodnan score is used to quantify skin involvement, but this method is subjective and user dependent. The aim of this study was to test the ability of a new skin torsion device to measure skin elasticity in patients with SSc.

    Methods: The study included 16 female SSc patients and 58 healthy controls. Skin elasticity was assessed on the forearms and backs of the hands using a new hand-held device that gently rotates the skin for 15 s to a maximum of 40 deg, and measures the speed of rotation and the angle of rotation at 15 s. Total and localized modified Rodnan scores were also documented.

    Results: Measurements produced by the skin torsion device had good intra-subject reproducibility, particularly in the control group. The SSc patients had significantly lower skin elasticity than an age-matched subgroup of control subjects, as determined by the median speed of rotation of the device in the hands (1.91 vs. 2.60 deg/s, p < 0.0001) and forearms (1.84 vs. 2.46 deg/s, p < 0.0001), and the rotation at 15 s in the hands (28.6 vs. 39.0 deg, p < 0.0001) and forearms (27.6 vs. 36.9 deg, p < 0.0001). The presence of SSc disease was the only independent predictor of skin elasticity.

    Conclusions: This pilot study has shown the potential value of a new skin torsion device to assess skin involvement in patients with SSc.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)211-216
    Number of pages6
    JournalScandinavian Journal of Rheumatology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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