Nailfold Capillaroscopy as a Research Tool

Date: Thu 20th April 2017

Nailfold capillaroscopy has been found to be a reliable measure of circulation in systemic sclerosis that can be used in practice and research, according to Dr Graham Dinsdale, research associate at the University of Manchester.

Nailfold capillaroscopy allows non-invasive imaging of circulation in the small capillaries of the fingers and is a particularly useful tool for assessing abnormal capillary architecture in people with systemic sclerosis. Graham Dinsdale, Ariane Herrick and colleagues at the University of Manchester and University of Liverpool carried out research assessing the use of computerised nailfold capillaroscopy as a tool to measure capillary grade, density (number per millimetre), average width and determine whether or not giant capillaries are present.

Subjective and objective methods of scoring capillaries were assessed and compared to make recommendations to rheumatologists about the reliability of different scoring methods in clinical practice and the research community about how capillaries should be scored or measured in studies of disease progression and treatment response. Overall image grade, capillary density and width had the potential to be used as outcome measures, so if researchers want to examine whether a drug has beneficial effects on nailfold capillaries, for example, these measurements can be used to assess changes in capillaries over time. To date, one paper based on the results of this work has been published (Dinsdale et al. Intra- and inter-observer reliability of nailfold video capillaroscopy – a possible outcome measure for systemic sclerosis-related micro angiopathy. Microvascular Research 2017;112:1–6) and another submitted.