Ultrasonographic assessment of nail in psoriatic disease shows a link between onychopathy and distal interphalangeal joint extensor tendon enthesopathy

Dermatology. 2012;225(3):231-5. doi: 10.1159/000343607. Epub 2012 Nov 3.


Objective: We compared ultrasonography (US) with the modified nail psoriasis severity index (mNAPSI) to investigate the nail plate, nail matrix and adjacent tendons in subjects with psoriatic nail disease and to test the hypothesis that nail involvement was specifically linked to extensor tendon enthesopathy.

Methods: 86 psoriatic patients (169 nails) and 20 healthy controls (HC) (40 nails) were assessed with both the mNAPSI and US. The thickness of the nail plate, nail matrix region and adjacent extensor tendon were assessed and compared with physical examination findings.

Results: A good agreement between clinical and sonographic nail findings was noted (kappa value = 0.52, p < 0.0001). Entheseal thickening of the extensor tendon on US was more frequent in patients with clinical nail disease compared to patients without clinical nail disease in both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (38 vs. 16%, p = 0.03, and 47 vs. 19%, p = 0.008, respectively). Nail thickness, nail matrix and adjacent skin thickness were higher in psoriatic patients compared to HC.

Conclusion: US and clinical findings show good correlation for the assessment of the nail in psoriatic disease. The demonstration of extensor tendon enthesopathy in both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis supports the importance of enthesopathy in nail disease pathogenesis whether or not clinical arthritis is present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nail Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Nail Diseases / etiology
  • Nails / anatomy & histology
  • Nails / diagnostic imaging*
  • Onycholysis / complications
  • Onycholysis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Psoriasis / complications
  • Psoriasis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / complications
  • Rheumatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ultrasonography