A chronic multi-system disorder of connective tissue. It is characterized by sclerosis in the skin, the LUNGS, the heart, the gastrointestinal tract, the KIDNEYS, and the musculoskeletal system. Other important features include diseased small blood vessels and autoantibodies. The disorder is named for its most prominent feature (hard skin), and classified into subsets by the extent of skin thickening: LIMITED SCLERODERMA and DIFFUSE SCLERODERMA.

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