The emerging application of semi-quantitative and quantitative capillaroscopy in systemic sclerosis

Microvasc Res. 2018 Jul;118:113-120. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2018.03.004. Epub 2018 Mar 12.


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disease with high morbidity and mortality, characterized by autoimmunity, obliterative vasculopathy involving mainly the microvasculature, and fibrosis. SSc-specific nailfold capillaroscopic changes have been defined, and nailfold capillaroscopy (NFC) is now unequivocally accepted to be a cornerstone for the early diagnosis of SSc. However, the use of NFC in patients already diagnosed with SSc is still not standardized. Several studies have shown that NFC abnormalities correlate with disease activity and severity and are predictive for disease worsening, such as occurrence of new digital ulcers. More importantly, successful treatment has been shown to diminish NFC abnormalities in severe SSc cases. These findings support the importance of NFC in monitoring patients with SSc and even its role as an outcome measure in SSc clinical trials. It is a matter of debate if Semi-quantitative and Quantitative NFC would be a more sensitive tool than qualitative NFC for meeting these objectives. This review is presenting the emerging application of Semi-quantitative and Quantitative NFC in SSc and its potential benefits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Capillaries / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Microscopic Angioscopy*
  • Nails / blood supply*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / pathology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / therapy
  • Skin / blood supply*