Publication date: Available online 30 May 2017
Author(s): Stergios Soulaidopoulos, Eva Triantafyllidou, Alexandros Garyfallos, George D. Kitas, Theodoros Dimitroulas
Endothelial dysfunction and microvascular damage constitute the hallmarks of systemic sclerosis (SSc), explaining much of the pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of the disease. Nailfold videocapillaroscopy (NVC) is an established method for the assessment of the microvasculature, aiding in distinguishing different types of structural vascular abnormalities. Until recently, NVC was used in the diagnosis of SSc as well as in the assessment and follow-up of peripheral digital vasculopathy. On the top of digital ulcers, internal organ involvement such as myocardial dysfunction, pulmonary vascular and/or parenchymal lung disease characterizes severe SSc imparting a high risk of mortality. There is growing evidence suggesting that the extent of peripheral microvascular changes reflects the severity of the disease, especially in terms of life-threatening cardiopulmonary complications. The possible use of nailfold videocapillaroscopy as a useful, non-invasive modality to improve the ability to identify patients at higher risk for these devastating complications of the disease remains to be established.The aim of this review is to critically summarize and discuss current literature regarding the relationship between morphological alterations of nailfold dermal papillary vessels and several manifestations of SSc, focusing on visceral organ involvement, as well as their association with surrogate markers of macrovascular disease.