Raynaud’s phenomenon and peripheral ischemic syndromes

Authors: D. Karetová
Authors‘ workplace: II. interní klinika 1. LF UK a VFN, Praha
Published in: Čes. Revmatol., 20, 2012, No. 2, p. 54-61.
Category: Overview Reports


Raynaud’s syndrome (or Raynaud’s phenomenon, RP) is an episodic disorder caused by vasospasm of peripheral arterioles. Exposure to cold temperatures or emotional stress is the most common underlying cause. The clinical manifestations include a sudden change in the colour of the fingers (less often of the toes), edema, paresthesia, and during a severe course of the disease, atrophy may occur in the involved tissues with ulcers or gangrene. The primary Raynaud’s phenomenon (Raynaud’s disease) that is characterized by an increased tendency to vasospasms due to an increased tone of sympaticus, can often be successfully treated with a change of lifestyle and the disease can completely remit. Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon (Raynaud’s syndrome) is caused by an underlying systemic disease (mostly systemic sclerosis), or by various types of involvement of the arterial system (vasculitis, etc.). The diagnosis is based on a typical clinical picture. Laboratory and functional tests aim to establish the actual disorder of blood circulation (using Doppler ultrasonography, capillaroscopy etc.) and especially to exclude a systemic disease. Basic laboratory tests include determination of the activity of inflammation - C-reactive protein, rheumatoid factor, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, blood counts and antinuclear antibodies. The patient should be monitored by an angiologist to exclude concurrent macroangiopathy, or by a rheumatologist to monitor the patient for the development of any manifestations of autoimmune rheumatic diseases over time. Pharmacotherapy of RP is based on calcium channel blockers, as the drugs of first choice. However, their use is limited in some patients with RP due to tendency to hypotension. Endothelin receptor antagonists (especially bosentan) and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (such as sildenafil, or longer-acting tadalafil) are the new available drugs that were introduced in the prevention of vasospasm and formation of ulcers in systemic sclerosis. The most severe cases with prolonged vasospasms leading to acral ulcerations can be treated with local or intravenous prostaglandin E1 and pharmacological or surgical sympathectomy should be considered.

Key words:
Raynaud’s phenomenon, Raynaud’s disease, digital ulcers, vasodilators, endothelin receptor antagonists, phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, prostaglandins


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Dermatology & STDs Paediatric rheumatology Rheumatology
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