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Raynaud's phenomenon

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Episodes of constriction of small arteries or arterioles (or both) of extremities, with sequential changes in colour of the skin, pallor, cyanosis, usually following exposure to cold. The fingers become pale, then blue, and painful, and finally bright red at the end of the attack. When such features of Raynaud's disease occur as a complication to another disease it is called Raynaud's phenomenon. It is seen as secondary to such conditions as occlusive arterial disease, systemic scleroderma, thoracic outlet syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, myxoedema, or trauma.

In his thesis, Raynaud described several patients who developed cyanosis and other discolorations of their fingers when the digits were exposed to cold. One of his patients had a quite dramatic reaction and died two years later. Raynaud was unable to explain the phenomenon.


  • A. G. M. Raynaud:
    De l’asphyxie locale et de la gangrène symétrique des extrémités.
    Doctoral thesis, published February 25, 1862.
    Paris, Rignoux, 1862. L. Leclerc, Libraire-Éditeur.
    English translation by Thomas Barlow (1845-1945) in Selected Monographs, New Sydenham Society, London 1888, pp. 1-199.

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