Treatment of ischaemic digital ulcers and prevention of gangrene with intravenous iloprost in systemic sclerosis.
Zachariae H, Halkier-Sørensen L, Bjerring P, Heickendorff L
Twelve patients with systemic sclerosis were treated with intravenous infusions of the prostacyclin-stable analogue iloprost 0.5-2.0 ng/kg/min for 6 h from 8 to 13 days. Imminent gangrene was stopped in 2 patients and followed by healing. In 4 of 6 patients iloprost led to complete healing of ischaemic ulcers and in the remaining 2 patients to partial healing. One patient with severe Raynaud's phenomenon discontinued the study after 3 days due to severe headache. The 2 remaining patients with Raynaud's phenomenon as an indication improved, while no improvement was recorded in a patient with vasculitis of the lower leg. Side-effects such as headache, nausea and flushing were the reason that only 5 patients reached the maximum infusion rate. No statistical differences were recorded in digital bloodflow before and after the study or in plasma endothelin in the 9 patients investigated. Three of the 6 patients with healing ulcers, however, showed a pronounced decrease in plasma endothelin. Iloprost appears useful as a treatment of imminent gangrene and ischaemic ulcers in systemic sclerosis. This reparatory capacity could also be of a more general importance in therapy of this disease.