Clinical and capillaroscopic findings in patients with liver
Terry nails and Lindsay nails are similar forms of proximal apparent leukonychia (PAL). A change in nail bed vascularity is thought to be responsible for PAL. The study was aimed at investigating the frequency of PAL in patients attending a liver disease clinic, the factors associated with its presence, its value for detecting cirrhosis, its prognostic value for mortality, and associated capillaroscopic findings.

A total of 521 patients were included (age range, 18–94 years; 69% men). Systematic nail photographs were evaluated by 2 independent investigators. Disease-related data were obtained from the medical records. Mortality was evaluated after 7 years of follow-up. Nailfold capillaroscopy was performed on a subset of 80 patients.

PAL was present in 228 patients (43.8%; Terry nails in 205, Lindsay nails in 20, and both in 3). The kappa-coefficient of interobserver agreement was 0.82. The presence of PAL was associated with cirrhosis and, accordingly, with portal hypertension and hepatocellular dysfunction. The positive likelihood ratio of PAL for the diagnosis of cirrhosis was 1.6. PAL was independently associated with chronic alcohol abuse and was not a significant predictor of mortality. Venous loop dilatation and prominence of the venous plexus were observed on capillaroscopy in patients with cirrhosis but were not significantly associated with PAL.

In summary, PAL is a common finding in patients from a liver clinic; it is associated with liver cirrhosis and with alcohol abuse. PAL is not associated with specific capillaroscopic findings. We propose the generic term proximal apparent leukonychia instead of classic eponymous titles to avoid confusion in the literature.