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Diseases reference index «Clubbing of the fingers or toes»

Clubbing is a thickening of the flesh under the toenails and fingernails. The nail curves downward, similar to the shape of the round part of an upside-down spoon.

Considerations

Clubbing occurs with a wide number of diseases. It is most often found in heart and lung diseases that cause a lower-than-normal amount of oxygen in the blood.

Clubbing may also be due to lung cancer, and diseases of the liver and gastrointestinal tract.

Clubbing may also occur in families. In this case it may not be due to an underlying disease.

Causes

  • Chronic lung conditions
    • Bronchiectasis
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Lung abscess
    • Lung cancer
    • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Congenital heart disease (cyanotic type)
    • Tetralogy of Fallot
    • Total anomalous venous return
    • Transposition of the great vessels
    • Tricuspid atresia
    • Truncus arteriosus
  • Digestive system diseases
    • Celiac disease
    • Cirrhosis
    • Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Graves disease or hyperthyroidism
  • Other conditions
    • Dysentery
    • Other types of cancer, including liver, gastrointestinal, Hodgkin's lymphoma
    • Subacute endocarditis
    • Tuberculosis of the intestines

Home Care

There is no specific treatment for the clubbing itself. Home care depends on the diagnosis.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you notice clubbing, call your health care provider.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

A person with clubbing usually has other symptoms and signs of a specific condition. Diagnosing that condition is based on:

  • Family history
  • Medical history
  • Physical exam that looks at the lungs and chest

Medical history questions may include:

  • Do you have any breathing difficulty?
  • Does clubbing affect the fingers, toes, or both?
  • Is it becoming more noticeable?
  • Is the skin ever bluish-colored?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • When did you first notice this?

The following tests may be done:

  • Arterial blood gas
  • Chest CT scan
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • EKG
  • Pulmonary function tests

Alternative Names

Clubbing

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