ABSTRACT: Early diagnosis of systemic sclerosis (SSc) may allow the start of treatment that could slow disease progression. For this reason early diagnosis of the disease is of pivotal importance. However, the lack of diagnostic criteria and valid predictors significantly limit patient evaluation and the use of potentially effective drugs in the earliest phase of SSc. Early SSc may be suspected on the basis of Raynaud's phenomenon, puffy fingers, autoantibodies and SSc capillaroscopic pattern. In practice, the aim is to have criteria for the diagnosis of very early SSc. The criteria that are proposed are obviously provisional and need to be validated: (a) initially through a Delphi technique; (b) thereafter perhaps using already available datasets; but (c) of critical importance, through prospective studies. Only after prospective studies can these potential criteria be considered validated. The consensus on criteria for the classification of very early SSc might be part of the evolving EULAR/ACR project of reclassification of SSc.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases 10/2009; 68(9):1377-80. · 8.11 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: The optimal treatment of systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a challenge because the pathogenesis of SSc is unclear and it is an uncommon and clinically heterogeneous disease affecting multiple organ systems. The aim of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Scleroderma Trials and Research group (EUSTAR) was to develop evidence-based, consensus-derived recommendations for the treatment of SSc.
To obtain and maintain a high level of intrinsic quality and comparability of this approach, EULAR standard operating procedures were followed. The task force comprised 18 SSc experts from Europe, the USA and Japan, two SSc patients and three fellows for literature research. The preliminary set of research questions concerning SSc treatment was provided by 74 EUSTAR centres.
Based on discussion of the clinical research evidence from published literature, and combining this with current expert opinion and clinical experience, 14 recommendations for the treatment of SSc were formulated. The final set includes the following recommendations: three on SSc-related digital vasculopathy (Raynaud's phenomenon and ulcers); four on SSc-related pulmonary arterial hypertension; three on SSc-related gastrointestinal involvement; two on scleroderma renal crisis; one on SSc-related interstitial lung disease and one on skin involvement. Experts also formulated several questions for a future research agenda.
Evidence-based, consensus-derived recommendations are useful for rheumatologists to help guide treatment for patients with SSc. These recommendations may also help to define directions for future clinical research in SSc.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases 02/2009; 68(5):620-8. · 8.11 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: To describe methods and procedures used for the development of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR)/EULAR Scleroderma Trial and Research group (EUSTAR) recommendations for the treatment of systemic sclerosis. In particular, the results of a web-based Delphi exercise aimed at selection of research questions and evidence from systematic literature research, as parts of the development of these recommendations, are presented in detail.
In agreement with the EULAR standard operating procedures a Task Force was created that consisted of the EUSTAR board members, 10 systemic sclerosis (SSc) experts invited from outside the EUSTAR board and representing Europe, the USA and Japan, a clinical epidemiologist, 2 patients with SSc and 3 fellows for literature research. All EUSTAR centres were invited to contribute to the development of recommendations through submission and preliminary selection of the research questions. The systematic literature research was performed using the Pubmed, Medline, EMBASE and Cochrane databases. Retrieved trials were evaluated according to the Jadad classification, and the level of evidence was graded from 1 to 4. Outcome data for efficacy and adverse events were abstracted and effect size, number needed to treat (NNT) and number needed to harm (NNH) were calculated when appropriate.
In all, 65 EUSTAR Centres provided 304 research questions concerning SSc treatment. These questions were aggregated, subdivided into 19 treatment categories and then subjected to preliminary selection by a web-based Delphi technique. The final set of 26 research questions was created by the Expert Committee based on the results of the Delphi exercise and the expert's experience.
This paper is a comprehensive summary of the methods we used to build recommendations for the drug treatment of systemic sclerosis, combining an evidence based approach and expert opinion.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases 11/2008; 68(5):629-34. · 8.11 Impact Factor