Transition from primary Raynaud's phenomenon to secondary Raynaud's phenomenon identified by diagnosis of an associated disease: results of ten years of prospective surveillance

Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Jun;54(6):1974-81. doi: 10.1002/art.21912.


Objective: To assess the early signs, risk factors, and rate of transition from primary Raynaud's phenomenon (primary RP) to secondary RP.

Methods: A clinical sample of 307 consecutive patients with RP was included in a prospective followup study. After an initial screening, 244 patients were classified as having primary RP, of whom 236 were followed up for a mean +/- SD of 11.2 +/- 3.9 years. Patients classified according to the screening as having suspected secondary RP underwent an extended screening program annually until transition to secondary RP occurred.

Results: The initial prevalence of secondary RP was 11%. The annual incidence of transition to suspected secondary RP was 2%, and the annual incidence of transition to secondary RP was 1%. Overall, 46 patients were classified as having suspected secondary RP, and 23 of these later were classified as having secondary RP. Older age at onset of RP (hazard ratio 2.59, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.40-4.80), shorter duration of RP at enrollment (hazard ratio 0.87, 95% CI 0.81-0.94), and abnormal findings on thoracic outlet test (hazard ratio 2.69, 95% CI 1.12-6.48) were associated with an increased risk for transition to secondary RP. Compared with patients with suspected secondary RP, those diagnosed as having secondary RP had a higher number and earlier occurrence of pathologic findings. Furthermore, antinuclear antibodies at a titer of > or = 1:320 and positive findings in specific serologic subsets were associated with a significantly increased risk for developing a connective tissue disease.

Conclusion: Patients diagnosed initially as having primary RP may actually comprise 1 of 3 groups: those with idiopathic RP, those with a rather benign disease course, and those with a more severe course of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Raynaud Disease / classification
  • Raynaud Disease / diagnosis*
  • Raynaud Disease / immunology
  • Raynaud Disease / pathology


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear