Medical records of five patients with sclerodenna (SSc), each of whom had pericardial effusion with an estimated volume of more than 200 ml, were reviewed to study the clinical and immunological significance of massive pericardial effusion in SSc. Diffuse SSc (4/5), with a wide area of pigmentation (4/5), flexion contracture (4/5), oesophageal hypomotility (5/5), pulmonary fibrosis (4/5) and autoantibodies to topoisomerase I (3/5) were the common features in this group. High protein, lactate dehydrogenase and low white blood cell count were the characteristics of pericardial fluid. None of the patients had signs of acute pericarditis. Four of the five cases died within 9 months of the diagnosis of pericarditis; two with renal failure, one with cardiac tamponade and another with sudden death. The pericarditis in diffuse SSc, especially in cases with anti-topoisomerase I, may be characterized by a chronic form of pericarditis with poor prognosis, often complicated by ,renal failure.
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