The objective of this study was to investigate the presence of nailfold capillary abnormalities and extrahepatic signs of connective tissue disease in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), as compared to patients with other chronic liver diseases. We evaluated 22 patients with PBC and 15 patients with other chronic liver diseases as a control group. Nailfold capillaroscopy was performed by two observers blinded to clinical findings using a Wild M3 stereomicroscope with an Intralux 5000 Volpi cold light lamp. We detected nailfold capillary abnormalities in 20 out of 22 (91%) PBC patients. Twelve of these 20 patients (54%) showed capillary alterations characteristic of systemic sclerosis. In the control group only two out of 15 patients (13%) presented alterations and in both cases they were a non-specific type. The presence of nailfold capillary abnormalities was significantly greater in PBC patients than in the control group (P < 0.001). Eleven out of the 22 PBC patients (50%) had extrahepatic signs of connective tissue disease and most of them were related to systemic sclerosis; patients with other chronic liver diseases did not present rheumatic manifestations (P < 0.001). In PBC patients there was a significant association between systemic sclerosis capillary pattern and rheumatic manifestations (P < 0.03). The high prevalence of nailfold capillary abnormalities characteristic of systemic sclerosis in patients with PBC and the correlation with sclerodermal manifestations suggests that this capillaroscopic finding could be a useful indicator to investigate rheumatic manifestations in these patients.
- Nailfold capillary abnormalities
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Systemic sclerosis