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Ann Anat. 2006 Sep;188(5):425-9.

Microvascular abnormalities in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Oral Sciences, University of Palermo, Italy.


Microvascular involvement represents one of the first apparent steps in many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early in the disease, peripheral microangiopathy may be easily recognized and studied by videocapillaroscopy. The aim of this study has been to observe the differences in labial microcirculation between healthy patients and patients suffering from RA. A total of 30 healthy patients and 30 patients suffering from RA were examined. The patients with conditions known to compromise microcirculation, such as diabetes, hypertension, or some pharmacological treatments were not included in the study. All the patients were non-smokers. Labial capillaroscopy was used to investigate the characteristics of microcirculation. Visibility, course, tortuosity, as well as the possible presence of microhemorrhages, the average caliber of the capillary loops and the number of visible capillary loops per square millimeter were evaluated for each patient. The investigation was simple, non-invasive, and repeatable for each patient. In patients suffering from RA, it was possible to observe a reduced caliber of capillaries, as well as greater elongated capillaries, in comparison to controls. This study shows that capillary alterations in patients suffering from RA occur in labial mucosa microcirculation; such evidence could be extremely important in the diagnosis of suspected RA.

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