Nailfold Cappillaroscopy

Nailfold cappillaroscopy is a test used to diagnose Raynaud’s phenomenon, one of the symptoms of cold agglutinin disease (CAD).

How is nailfold cappillaroscopy performed?

Nailfold cappillaroscopy is a simple diagnostic test where the bed of the fingernails is examined under a microscope to visualize the capillary blood vessels.

The test involves capturing images of the nail bed, which takes a few minutes. However, the interpretation of the images may take longer, depending on the physician or clinic performing the test.

How is nailfold cappillaroscopy interpreted?

The capillary blood vessels in healthy people are regular and evenly spaced across the nail bed.

In patients with secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon (caused by conditions other than CAD, such as scleroderma), the capillary blood vessels become irregular and some areas of the nail bed do not have any blood vessels, or blood vessels may be much larger and more fragile than they should be.

For some patients with primary Raynaud’s phenomenon, the capillary blood vessels look normal. These patients have a good prognosis with a low risk of developing other conditions.

Other information

Nailfold cappillaroscopy alone cannot confirm CAD, but it can indicate any accompanying conditions that can cause Raynaud’s phenomenon.


Last updated: August 13, 2019


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