The Raynaud’s Disease Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is one of only a few clinics in New England exclusively dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of patients with Raynaud’s disease (Raynaud’s phenomenon). A multidisciplinary team of vascular medicine, rheumatology, pulmonary vascular, plastic surgery, and other medical specialists collaborate to provide the most appropriate and effective care for patients with Raynaud’s.
Raynaud’s disease is a disorder that affects blood flow primarily in the fingers and toes, and sometimes the ears, nipples, knees, or nose. It is characterized by vasospasm – sudden contractions of blood vessels that severely reduce blood flow to the extremities – most often provoked by exposure to cold, but also by emotional stress.
Raynaud’s can exist as an isolated condition (Primary Raynaud’s) and is seen more frequently in women and people who live in colder climates. The exact cause of primary Raynaud’s is unknown. It also occurs in men and women who have autoimmune or connective tissue diseases as well as other diseases (Secondary Raynaud’s), including:
Although it is uncertain why people develop Raynaud’s, there are some risk factors associated with the disease, including:
The following are the most common symptoms of Raynaud's, but each patient may experience symptoms differently.
Patients at our Raynaud’s Disease Clinic are initially evaluated by two physicians – a vascular medicine specialist and a rheumatologist. Much of the diagnosis will focus on evaluating symptoms. Along with a complete medical history and a medical exam, our team will typically order at least one type of blood test. A patient also may undergo a cold challenge test to bring out color changes in the hands or feet.
With Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon, it’s also important to identify – and treat – the underlying autoimmune or other disorder that may be causing Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Following a thorough evaluation, the physician team will develop a treatment plan based on the type and extent of the disease, the patient’s overall health, and the patient’s preferences.
Although there is no cure for Raynaud’s, it normally can be well managed with appropriate treatment, such as:
For patients who are at risk of losing their fingers, plastic surgeon Christian E. Sampson, MD, offers of a variety of surgical techniques. One such innovative technique is to remove the sheath of nerves surrounding the hand’s blood vessels, thereby eliminating the nerves responsible for triggering vasospasms.
Marie Gerhard-Herman, MD
Please call (857) 307-4000 if you would like more information about the Raynaud’s Disease Clinic or would like to schedule an appointment.
For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.