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Re-evaluation of nailfold capillaroscopy in discriminating primary from secondary Raynaud's phenomenon and in predicting systemic sclerosis: a randomised observational prospective cohort study.

BACKGROUND: Primary Raynaud's phenomenon (pRP) is difficult to distinguish from secondary (sRP). Although nailfold capillaroscopy (NFC) may detect early alterations, no universal criteria yet discriminate between pRP from sRP.

OBJECTIVES: To create and validate two NFC scores that could distinguish pRP from sRP and that could predict systemic sclerosis (SSc), respectively.

METHODS: We performed NFC on two separate cohorts with isolated RP, and recorded number of capillaries per field, enlarged/giant capillaries, crossed/bizarre patterns, microhemorrhages, neoangiogenesis, rarefaction, edema, blood flow velocity, stasis. By multivariate regression analysis, we evaluated the adjusted prognostic role of these features in a derivation cohort of 656 patients. Results were used to construct algorithm-based prognostic scores (A and B). These scores were then tested on a confirmation cohort of 219 patients.

RESULTS: Score A was unable to discriminate sRP from pRP (low negative predictive values with high positive predictive values for any cut-point); score B was unable to discriminate progression to SSc or a SSc-spectrum disorder (low positive predictive values with high negative predictive values for lower cut-points).

CONCLUSION: NFC patterns, believed as specific, showed low discriminatory power and on their own are unable to reliably discriminate sRP from pRP or predict evolution to SSc.

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