Nursing Student Class Projects (Formerly MSN)

Academic Term

Summer 2015

Document Type


Course Number

NURS 5330

Course Name

Advanced Pathophysiology

Professor’s Name

John D. Chovan, James R. Cacchillo


Scleroderma, Vasospastic Attacks

Subject Categories

Medical Pathology | Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms


Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) is a widely prevalent clinical disorder commonly seen in outpatient settings. It is characterized by episodic vasospastic attacks of the digital arteries and arterioles that limit blood flow to the extremities, causing severe pain. Temperature changes and stress are the primary triggers that exacerbate this disease. The classic biphasic color changes of RP are pallor, cyanosis, and erythema and commonly affect the fingers and toes and more rarely, the nose, nipples, ears, lips, and penis. RP is divided into subcategories. Primary Raynaud’s phenomenon (PRP) is when no underlying medical disease exists and the condition happens spontaneously. It is usually benign with mild attacks and treated with conservative measures. Secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon (SRP) occurs in the context of an underlying systemic disease such as Scleroderma (Brown, 2012, p. 41). SRP patients often experience more severe attacks and require pharmacological treatments along with conservative measures. They are at greater risk of developing more severe symptoms such as digital ulcerations and gangrene (Parker, 2013, p. 23). An increased understanding of the pathophysiology of PRP and SRP has enhanced the treatment options available for these patients. Although RP can poses problematic, debilitating symptoms for patients, healthcare professionals can help these patients learn how to self-manage their disease and live a more comfortable lifestyle. This topic was chosen to research to increase nurses’ knowledge of the pathophysiology of PRP and SRP, the presentation of the disease symptoms, and the implications that the care provided can have on patient outcomes.



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