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Hyperspectral Imaging Provides Novel Way to Quantify Raynaud Phenomenon in Systemic Sclerosis Patients

February 09, 2023
by Shin Mei Chan

A new study from Yale Department of Internal Medicine’s Section of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology and the Department of Surgery’s Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy describes the use of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) to measure oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin concentrations and oxygen saturation. In systemic sclerosis patients with Raynaud phenomenon, this technology may help quantify disease severity. In the article in Arthritis Research & Therapy, corresponding author Monique Hinchcliff, MD MS, associate professor of medicine (rheumatology), and team used a hand-held camera to perform HSI.

Overcoming Quantitative Research Limitations

Raynaud phenomenon is a microcirculatory disorder that results in color changes most commonly in extremities such as the fingers and toes, in response to environmental or emotional triggers. Classically, randomized controlled trials have been limited due to disease heterogeneity and subjectivity in patient reactions. While various scoring systems have been developed, few are validated to enable quantification of Raynaud disease severity and activity that may be implemented on a larger scale.

HSI s a Promising Method

HSI combines digital imaging with conventional spectroscopy, allowing investigators to noninvasively capture data regarding hemoglobin oxygenation and oxygen saturation in the skin. Using reflectance and fluorescence spectrums, an oxygenation map can be created. Hinchcliff and her team demonstrate that deoxygenated hemoglobin was higher and oxygen saturation was significantly lower in systemic sclerosis patients when compared with healthy control patients. Furthermore, patients with systemic sclerosis had greater declines in oxygenated hemoglobin and oxygen saturation after a cold challenge.

This technology can be used to also quantify other diseases of the microvascular system, including peripheral arterial disease.

Future Directions

The future of systemic sclerosis research is encouraging as new technological advancements such as HSI are used. The utility of this technology is particularly promising as it is non-invasive and can be used in an outpatient, clinical setting.  

In addition to Hinchcliff, authors include Shannon Teaw; Akash Gupta, MD; Alyssa Williams; F. Perry Wilson, MD, MDCE; Brandon J. Sumpio, MD; and Bauer E. Sumpio, MD, PhD, FACS.

The Department of Internal Medicine at Yale is among the nation's premier departments, bringing together an elite cadre of clinicians, investigators, educators, and staff in one of the world's top medical schools. To learn more, visit Internal Medicine.

Submitted by Julie Parry on February 10, 2023