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Mar 2012

Top-Accessed Article: Handheld Dermatoscope as Capillaroscopic Instrument

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York.

Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(3):354. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2011.858

Bergman R, Sharony L, Schapira D, Nahir MA, Balbir-Gurman A. The handheld dermatoscope as a nail-fold capillaroscopic inst;rument. Arch Dermatol. 2003;139(8):1027-1030.

Nail-fold capillaroscopy is a technique that aids in the early diagnosis of connective tissue diseases and in distinguishing primary from secondary Raynaud phenomenon. Its use was largely prompted by the 1973 work of Maricq and LeRoy,1 who described the different capillaroscopic patterns in connective tissue disease, including dilatation of capillary loops and focal loss of capillaries, using wide-field stereomicroscopy.

In their article, Bergman and colleagues demonstrate that the handheld dermatoscope, an instrument typically used by dermatologists for the diagnosis of pigmented lesions, is able to provide results comparable to those of traditionally used capillaroscopic devices in identifying patterns in the nail folds. Using an unmodified dermatoscope, they found a statistically significant increase in the frequency of the scleroderma-dermatomyositis capillaroscopic pattern in patients with scleroderma, dermatomyositis, and mixed connective tissue disease compared with that in their control group of healthy subjects.

The authors show that the dermatoscope provides a simple and effective means to perform capillaroscopy. Their work has helped to expand the applications of the standard dermatoscope and to make capillaroscopy more widely accessible to dermatologists.

From August 2009 through August of 2010, this article was viewed 2795 times on the Archives of Dermatology Web site.

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Contact Dr Stein at the Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, 530 First Ave, 7R, New York, NY (

Maricq HR, LeRoy EC. Patterns of finger capillary abnormalities in connective tissue disease by “wide-field ” microscopy.  Arthritis Rheum. 1973;16(5):619-628PubMedArticle