How is Raynaud’s diagnosed?

If a doctor suspects Raynaud’s phenomenon, he or she will thoroughly evaluate the patient’s medical history and perform a complete physical exam to rule out other medical problems. Often, it is fairly easy to diagnose Raynaud’s, but more difficult to identify the form of the disorder.

One diagnostic test useful in helping doctors determine the correct form of Raynaud’s is known as a nailfold capillaroscopy, in which capillaries are studied under a microscope. For people with Primary Raynaud’s Phenomenon, the results of this test will be normal. The results of this test will be abnormal for those who have the secondary form.

During a nailfold capillaroscopy, the doctor places a drop of oil on the patient’s nailfold - the skin at the base of the fingernail. The doctor will then examine the nailfold under a microscope or a hand-held ophthalmoscope to look for abnormalities of the capillaries. If the capillaries are enlarged or abnormal, this may indicate that the patient has a connective tissue disease.

If the patient has symptoms suggesting secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon, the doctor may order a complete blood count (CBC), a urinalysis, and chemistry profile.

Other tests a doctor may order to help distinguish between the two forms of Raynaud’s are the antinuclear antibody test (ANA), the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or tests for the rheumatoid factor and complement levels.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/14/2019.

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