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    Scleroderma is a rare disease in which a person's immune system begins to destroy normal, healthy tissues. (This is called an 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. This happens because the valve between the esophagus and stomach ( lower esophageal sphincter ) does not close tightly.
    • Harder to move stomach juices out of the esophagus. This happens because the squeezing motion of the esophagus (peristalsis) does not work as well as it should.

    CREST syndrome is a limited type of scleroderma that can also affect the esophagus.


    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
    Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
    Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology

    Current as ofFebruary 24, 2016

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