Quantitative nailfold capillaroscopy-update and possible next steps

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We review the exciting potential (and challenges) of quantitative nailfold capillaroscopy, focusing on its role in systemic sclerosis. Quantifying abnormality, including automated analysis of nailfold images, overcomes the subjectivity of qualitative/descriptive image interpretation. First we consider the rationale for quantitative analysis, including the potential for precise discrimination between normal and abnormal capillaries and for reliable measurement of disease progression and treatment response. We discuss nailfold image acquisition and interpretation, and describe how early work on semi-quantitative and quantitative analysis paved the way for semi-automated and automated analysis. Measurement of red blood cell velocity is described briefly. Finally we give a personal view on 'next steps'. From a clinical perspective, increased uptake of nailfold capillaroscopy by general rheumatologists could be achieved via low-cost hand-held devices with cloud-based automated analysis. From a research perspective, automated analysis could facilitate large-scale prospective studies using capillaroscopic parameters as possible biomarkers of systemic sclerosis-spectrum disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2054-2065
Number of pages12
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2021


  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Microscopic Angioscopy
  • Nails/blood supply
  • Scleroderma, Systemic/diagnostic imaging


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