A new study has investigated whether baseline laser speckly contrast analysis (LASCA) peripheral blood perfusion (PBP) differed between patients with early systemic sclerosis (SSc) or clinically overt SSc.

The study, published in Diagnostics, found no differences even after adjusting for confounding factors, revealing significant heterogeneity in SSc.

“In research setting (either following or during various forms of stress, such as the cold or occlusion test) differences in perfusion values between ‘early’ and ‘clinically overt’ SSc have been previously reported,” the authors wrote. “The aim of this pilot study was to investigate if LASCA can differentiate between the PBP of ‘early’ and ‘clinically overt’ SSc at baseline, in daily circumstances, in an unselected cohort of SSc patients.”

The research team conducted a pilot study evaluating 60 consecutive patients with either limited SSc (LSSc) and overt SSc (with skin involvement, limited cutaneous SSc—LcSSc and diffuse cutaneous SSc—DcSSc) at a single center in Ghent, Belgium between September 2019 and December 2022.

Read more about SSc differential diagnosis

Demographic data were recorded and LASCA recordings were performed on all participants according to a standardized protocol, and the adjusted mean PBP was acquired.

The results revealed that the mean PBP was not significantly different between LSSc, LcSSc, and DcSSc, even after adjusting for potential confounders, including vasoactive therapy (calcium channel blockers, phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors, and prostaglandin E2—alprostadil). In fact, a wide variety of measurements were obtained in each subgroup, highlighting the heterogeneity in SSc.

The authors conclude that LASCA was unable to discriminate between early and overt SSC, but larger studies will be required to confirm this observation. In addition, they suggest future studies to elucidate whether LASCA at baseline could be useful to assess intra-individual changes over time in patients with SSc and whether those changes correlate with peripheral vascular clinical symptoms.  


Willems S, Smith V, Wallaert S, et al. Description of peripheral blood perfusion by laser speckle contrast analysis (LASCA) in ‘early’ versus ‘clinically overt’ systemic sclerosis in routine clinics. Diagnostics. Published online April 27, 2023. doi.10.3390/diagnostics13091566