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Research Article

Finger clubbing in inflammatory bowel disease: its prevalence and pathogenesis.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 06 October 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:825
  1. G Kitis,
  2. H Thompson,
  3. R N Allan


    Finger clubbing, measured objectively by using the hyponychial angle, was present in 75 out of 200 (38%) patients with Crohn's disease, 15 out of 103 (15%) with ulcerative colitis, and two out of 24 (8%) with proctitis. In Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis the hyponychial angle was significantly correlated with both disease activity and the extent of fibrosis in the resected specimens from 47 surgically treated patients. The prevalence of finger clubbing in patients with macroscopic disease within the area of the gut innervated by the vagus nerve was significantly higher than that in patients in whom the disease was confined to the distal colon and rectum. Finger clubbing in patients with Crohn's disease tended to regress after resection of macroscopic disease. It is concluded that finger clubbing is significantly commoner in Crohn's disease than ulcerative colitis. The focal stimuli for finger clubbing include mucosal inflammatory change and fibrosis mediated by the vagus and possibly other autonomic pathways acting as the afferent arc of a finger-clubbing reflex.