Vol 9, No 1 (2023)
Review paper
Published online: 2023-03-21

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Capillaroscopic examination in the early diagnosis of systemic sclerosis

Ewa Wielosz1
Rheumatology Forum 2023;9(1):11-13.


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disease characterised by impairment of vascular function. One of the examinations particularly useful in the early diagnosis of SSc is nail fold capillaroscopy. In SSc, the capillaroscopic findings show characteristic microcirculatory disorders defined as SSc-associated microangiopathy. The term microangiopathy includes the following pathological changes: decreased numbers of vessels with areas of avascularisation, widened vascular loops leading to the formation of megacapillaries, the presence of ramified loops and cap-shaped microextravasations. The important pathological changes occurring already in the early forms of SSc are megacapillaries Apart from early diagnosis, capillaroscopy is of prognostic importance, as the type of capillaroscopic lesions may correlate with disease activity and the degree of involvement of internal organs. In addition, capillaroscopy is used to monitor the course of SSc and the response to treatment.

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