Capillaroscopic pattern in inflammatory arthritis

Microvasc Res. 2012 May;83(3):318-22. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 Mar 9.


Background: There are limited data about the role of nailfold capillaroscopy in inflammatory arthritis.

Objectives: To study the role of capillaroscopy in inflammatory arthritis-rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and early arthritis.

Methods: Patients from the following groups were included in the study: 62 patients with RA; 34 patients with PsA with involvement of the joints of the hands; 9 women with early arthritis. Nailfold capillaroscopy was performed with videocapillaroscope.

Results: Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) was found in 30.6% (19/62) of RA patients, in 32.4% (11/34) of PsA patients and 44.4%, (4/9) of cases with early arthritis. The most frequent found capillaroscopic changes in RA patients were presence of elongated capillaries in 58% of cases (36/62) and prominent subpapillary plexus in 69% (43/62). Dilated capillaries were found in 78.9% (15/19) of patients with secondary RP and in 62.8% (27/43) of those without RP. "Scleroderma-like" capillaroscopic pattern was observed with low frequency in RA patients (14.5%/9/62). "Scleroderma-like" capillaroscopic pattern was also found in 11.1% (1/9) in the group of patients with early arthritis. The low frequency of the last type of capillaroscopic pattern in RA requires patients with such changes to be observed during regular follow-up for the development of systemic rheumatic disease different from inflammatory arthritis. In patients with PsA capillaries with specific morphology (tight terminal convolutions) were found in 58.8% (20/34) of cases.

Conclusions: Results from the present study confirm the necessity for inclusion of the nailfold capillaroscopy in the diagnostic algorithm in patients with inflammatory arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis / physiopathology*
  • Arthritis, Psoriatic / physiopathology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology*
  • Capillaries / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Microscopic Angioscopy / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Raynaud Disease