acrocyanosis

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Acrocyanosis

 

Definition

Acrocyanosis is a decrease in the amount of oxygen delivered to the extremities. The hands and feet turn blue because of the lack of oxygen. Decreased blood supply to the affected areas is caused by constriction or spasm of small blood vessels.

Description

Acrocyanosis is a painless disorder caused by constriction or narrowing of small blood vessels in the skin of affected patients. The spasm of the blood vessels decreases the amount of blood that passes through them, resulting in less blood being delivered to the hands and feet. The hands may be the main area affected. The affected areas turn blue and become cold and sweaty. Localized swelling may also occur. Emotion and cold temperatures can worsen the symptoms, while warmth can decrease symptoms. The disease is seen mainly in women and the effect of the disorder is mainly cosmetic. People with the disease tend to be uncomfortable, with sweaty, cold, bluish colored hands and feet.

Causes and symptoms

The sympathetic nerves cause constriction or spasms in the peripheral blood vessels that supply blood to the extremities. The spasms are a contraction of the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels. The contraction decreases the internal diameter of the blood vessels, thereby decreasing the amount of blood flow through the affected area. The spasms occur on a persistent basis, resulting in long term reduction of blood supply to the hands and feet. Sufficient blood still passes through the blood vessels so that the tissue in the affected areas does not starve for oxygen or die. Mainly, blood vessels near the surface of the skin are affected.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by observation of the main clinical symptoms, including persistently blue and sweaty hands and/or feet and a lack of pain. Cooling the hands increases the blueness, while warming the hands decreases the blue color. The acrocyanosis patient's pulse is normal, which rules out obstructive diseases. Raynaud's disease differs from acrocyanosis in that it causes white and red skin coloration phases, not just bluish discoloration.

Treatment

Acrocyanosis usually isn't treated. Drugs that block the uptake of calcium (calcium channel blockers) and alpha-one antagonists reduce the symptoms in most cases. Drugs that dilate blood vessels are only effective some of the time. Sweating from the affected areas can be profuse and require treatment. Surgery to cut the sympathetic nerves is performed rarely.

Prognosis

Acrocyanosis is a benign and persistent disease. The main concern of patients is cosmetic. Left untreated, the disease does not worsen.

Resources

Books

Alexander, R. W., R. C. Schlant, and V. Fuster, editors. The Heart. 9th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Key terms

Sympathetic nerve — A nerve of the autonomic nervous system that regulates involuntary and automatic reactions, especially to stress.

acrocyanosis

 [ak″ro-si″ah-no´sis]
persistent cyanosis of the fingers and hands or the toes and feet, with mottled blue or red discoloration, coldness, and profuse sweating of the digits. It may be seen in newborn infants or during the first weeks of life in response to exposure to cold.

ac·ro·cy·a·no·sis

(ak'rō-sī-ă-nō'sis),
A circulatory disorder in which the hands, and less commonly the feet, are persistently cold and blue; some forms are related to Raynaud phenomenon.
[acro- + G. kyanos, blue, + -osis, condition]

acrocyanosis

/ac·ro·cy·a·no·sis/ (-si″ah-no´sis) cyanosis of the limbs with discoloration of the skin of digits, wrists, and ankles, and profuse sweating and coldness of digits.

acrocyanosis

symmetrical cyanosis of the extremities, with persistent, uneven blue or red discoloration of the skin of the fingers, toes, wrists, or ankles accompanied by sweating or profuse coldness of the digits. Also called Raynaud's sign.

Acrocyanosis

An acquired condition marked by symmetrical cyanosis of the distal (hence, acro-) extremities, with persistent, blue and/or red mottling of the skin of the digits, wrists and ankles, accompanied by profuse sweating and cold extremities.

acrocyanosis

Raynaud sign Clinical medicine An acquired condition marked by symmetrical cyanosis of the extremities, with persistent, blue and/or red mottling of the skin of the digits, wrists and ankles, accompanied by profuse sweating and cold extremities. See Raynaud's phenomenon.

ac·ro·cy·a·no·sis

(ak'rō-sī-ă-nō'sis)
A circulatory disorder in which the hands, and less commonly the feet, are persistently cold and blue; some forms are related to the Raynaud phenomenon.
Synonym(s): Crocq disease, Raynaud sign.
[acro- + G. kyanos, blue, + -osis, condition]

acrocyanosis

Blueness, coldness and sweating of the hands and feet in cold weather, due to spasm of small blood vessels. Acrocyanosis is a feature of RAYNAUD'S DISEASE.

Crocq,

Jean, Belgian physician, 1868-1925.
Crocq disease - a circulatory disorder. Synonym(s): acrocyanosis

Raynaud,

Maurice, French physician, 1834-1881.
Raynaud disease - Synonym(s): Raynaud syndrome
Raynaud gangrene - Synonym(s): Raynaud syndrome
Raynaud phenomenon - spasm of the digital arteries, with blanching and numbness or pain of the fingers, often precipitated by cold.
Raynaud sign - Synonym(s): acrocyanosis
Raynaud syndrome - idiopathic paroxysmal bilateral cyanosis of the digits. Synonym(s): Raynaud disease; Raynaud gangrene; symmetric asphyxia

acrocyanosis

benign circulatory persistently cold, cyanotic and sweaty hands (and to a lesser extent the feet) in cool temperatures (less marked in warmer conditions), commoner in young women; normal pulses; no trophic skin changes; mild presentations resemble chilblains

ac·ro·cy·a·no·sis

(ak'rō-sī-ă-nō'sis)
Circulatory disorder in which the hands, and less commonly the feet, are persistently cold and blue.
[acro- + G. kyanos, blue, + -osis, condition]

acrocyanosis

a human condition characterized by symmetrical cyanosis of the extremities; seen in calves recovering from septicemia, often accompanied by gangrene.