Raynaud's Diagnosis: Nailfold Capillaroscopy

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Handheld Dermatoscope Works, Too
Primary Raynaud's & Capillaroscopy
Secondary Raynaud's & Capillaroscopy
Photos of Nailfold Capillaroscopy


Magniffyer, Painting by Shelley EnszNailfold capillaroscopy is the best way to tell if someone has primary or seconday Raynaud's. Capillaries are very tiny blood vessels. Capillaries are very close to the surface of the skin, particularly near the base of fingernails.

For nailfold capillaroscopy, the doctor puts drop of oil at the base of each fingernail and then looks at them under a strong magnifier.

Normal patterns indicate primary Raynaud's. Abnormal patterns indicate an underlying connective tissue disease, such as scleroderma, dermatomyositis, or lupus. (Also see What is Raynaud's?, What is Scleroderma?, Types of Scleroderma and Systemic Symptoms)

Association Between Nailfold Capillaroscopy (NVC) Findings and Pulmonary Function Tests in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis (SSc). Prospective studies are warranted to determine whether NVC is useful for studying pulmonary function in SSc. PubMed, J Rheumatol, 11/15/2014.

Handheld Dermatoscope Works, Too

(PDF) The Handheld Dermatoscope as a Nail-Fold Capillaroscopic Instrument. The unmodified handheld dermatoscope may be used as a capillaroscopic instrument to detect a scleroderma-dermatomyositis pattern and to help the dermatologist in the clinical diagnosis of connective tissue disorders. American Medical Association.

Primary Raynaud's and Nailfold Capillaroscopy

Primary Raynaud's. When Raynaud's appears by itself, without any other medical condition, it is called Primary Raynaud's, or Raynaud's Disease. More than 80% of people with Raynaud's have it by itself, not caused by any serious underlying illness. ISN.

Nailfold Cap. for Primary Raynaud's
Nailfold Capillaroscopy vs. Doppler
HRQOL with Primary Raynauds
Seconday Raynaud's

Secondary Raynaud's and Nailfold Capillaroscopy

Secondary Raynaud's. When Raynaud's appears along with autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, or rheumatoid arthritis, it is called Secondary Raynaud's, or Raynaud's Phenomenon. ISN.

Diagnosis of Primary vs Secondary
Raynaud's Secondary to Scleroderma
Raynaud's Secondary to Other Diseases

Photos of Nailfold Capillaroscopy

Photo Copyright European Journal of DermatologySystemic scleroderma in a 16-year-old boy: the diagnostic relevance of capillaroscopy and fluorescence video microscopy. Illustrations include pictures of nailfold capillaroscopy in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Abstract and Photo: European Journal of Dermatology. Volume 7, Numéro 5, 381-4.

Handheld Dermatoscope photo, copyright Archives of DermatologyThe Handheld Dermatoscope as a Nail-Fold Capillaroscopic Instrument. The presence of nailfold capillary abnormalities may be useful in diagnosing several connective tissue disorders, including scleroderma, dermatomyositis, and mixed connective tissue disease, and in differentiating primary Raynaud phenomenon from Raynaud phenomenon due to scleroderma and mixed connective tissue disease. Abstract and Photo: Archives of Dermatology. Vol. 139 No. 8, August 2003. (Also see Common Medical Tests)

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