Objective: To assess nailfold capillaroscopy in children and adolescents with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile dermatomyositis, scleroderma and mixed connective tissue disease) and relate it to clinical and laboratory findings and disease activity.
Methods: Cross-sectional study assessing 147 patients by use of nailfold capillaroscopy as follows: 60 with juvenile idiopathic arthritis; 30 with systemic lupus erythematosus; 30 with juvenile dermatomyositis; 20 with localized scleroderma; four with systemic sclerosis; and three with mixed connective tissue disease. Clinical and laboratory tests and nailfold capillaroscopy were performed in all patients. The nailfold capillaroscopy was performed with an optical microscope (at 10- and 16-time magnifications) by the same observer.
Results: Most patients (76.2%) had normal nailfold capillaroscopy. The major changes in nailfold capillaroscopy, characterizing the scleroderma pattern, were observed in patients with juvenile dermatomyositis, systemic scleroderma and mixed connective tissue disease. There was no association between nailfold capillaroscopy and disease activity in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and localized scleroderma. Disease activity and capillaroscopy were associated in patients with juvenile dermatomyositis.
Conclusion: Nailfold capillaroscopy is a useful method to diagnose autoimmune rheumatic diseases and monitor disease activity.