Office evaluation and treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon

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Raynaud's phenomenon, an episodic vascular disorder induced by cold temperatures or stress and characterized by white, blue, and red discoloration of the fingers and toes, may affect up to 20% of the general population.


Raynaud's phenomenon may exist independently (primary) or in association with an underlying disease (secondary), most commonly systemic sclerosis. The pathophysiologic features include vasospasm, endothelial cell changes, vessel obstructive features, and hemorrheologic factors. Raynaud's phenomenon is the initial manifestation of disease in 70% of patients with systemic sclerosis, in whom it may be present for many years before the development of the connective tissue disease. Patients with primary Raynaud's phenomenon need only conservative management and should be reassured that digital ischemia and loss of tissue occur extremely rarely. Pharmacologic agents that have been studied include vasodilators, platelet inhibitors, serotonin antagonists, and fibrinolytics.


For prognostic and therapeutic reasons, it is important to determine if Raynaud's phenomenon is associated with an underlying condition and if the patient may develop a connective tissue disease.



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