DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Vasospasm. The hands of an elderly man whose fingertips have whitened due to vasospasm (Raynaud's disease). The fingertips are white because small arteries in the fingers have constricted, cutting off the blood supply. Vasospasm occurs in response to cold. It causes tingling, numbness and whitening in the fingers and toes, all of which fade when the hands and feet are warmed up. In rare cases the arterial walls thicken, causing permanent reduction of blood flow, which can lead to ulcers or even gangrene. Treatment includes keeping the hands and feet warm, stopping smoking, and vasodilator drugs. Severe cases may require an operation to cut the nerve that makes the arteries spasm.
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