Purpose of review
To provide an update on the available literature regarding the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of calcinosis cutis in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
We identified observational studies that describe the frequency of calcinosis in SSc and associated clinical features; molecular studies exploring potential pathogenic mechanisms; and case reports and case series describing new diagnostic approaches and treatments.
Calcinosis cutis is the deposition of insoluble calcium in the skin and subcutaneous tissues. It represents a major clinical problem in patients with SSc affecting at least one quarter of patients. It is associated with longer disease duration, digital ulcers, acro-osteolysis, positive anticentromere antibody, and positive anti-PM/Scl antibody. Although pathogenesis is unknown, there is evidence supporting local trauma, chronic inflammation, vascular hypoxia, and dysregulation of bone matrix proteins as potential mechanisms. Diagnosis can be made clinically or with plain radiography. Several pharmacologic therapies have been tried for calcinosis with variable and modest results, but surgical excision of calcium deposits remains the mainstay of treatment.