American Journal of Medicine, internal medicine, medicine, health, healthy lifestyles, cancer, heart disease, drugs

Terry’s Nails: A Window to Systemic Diseases

PIIS0002934311002579.gr2.smlDespite the enormous involvement of imaging tools in medicine, a focused physical examination still plays a pivotal role in all medical fields. During and after taking history, a detailed inspection and examination of the patient will direct to further key diagnostic tools. A wealth of information can be gained from shaking hands and examining the hands at the same time. This part of the examination, and in particular the examination of the nails, is often neglected, although it is simple to notice if the hands are warm and well perfused or sweaty and to examine the color of the nails. In some cases, nail shapes are directive for the diagnosis, such as clubbed fingers in pulmonary or cardiovascular disorders. This short report describes 2 patients with different systemic diseases but developing similar nail changes. The early recognition of this nail abnormality could have led to earlier treatment.

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— Amir M. Nia, MS, Stefan Ederer, MS, Kristina M. Dahlem, MS, Natig Gassanov, MD, Fikret Er, MD

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

5 Responses to “Terry’s Nails: A Window to Systemic Diseases”

  1. Nice association and great article. Congratulations to the authors. Besides, may I ask, if there are existing data about the prevalence of such nail changes in the mentioned population?

  2. Dr. Amir M. Nia (University of Cologne, Germany) July 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Dear colleague,

    thank you for your interest in our paper and your nice compliment

    Unfortunately to our best know, there are no existing data concerning the prevalence of Terry`s nails in the mentioned population.

    It would be of certain interest, if we would know how many patients really suffer such nail alterations prior to clinical manifestaion of systemic diseases.

    Best regards from Germany

    Amir M. Nia

  3. Great article! however I have a little confusion. I have seen some of friends’ nails they appear normal in color however have a slightly darker band at the distal end. I mean in Terry’s or Lindsay’s nails the proximal part of nails is supposed to be opaque and white but what about these normal looking nails with dark brown band at the distal end? are these also Terry’s or Lindsay’s nails? Thanks

  4. Dear colleague,

    the described nail changes are not characteristic for Terry`s nor Lindsay`s nails.
    Maybe in your case this appearance is just an age related phenomenon, an individual nail variant, or is associated with tobacco use.

    Kind regards from Cologne

    Amir M. Nia
    University of Cologne, Germany

  5. I’ve read from Zetaclear before and they mentioned that this is a condition where some of or a lot of your fingernails turn white and 80% of cirrhosis patients have it. I’m worried for my friend’s condition.