Livedo reticularis

Livedo reticularis is a common skin finding consisting of a mottled reticulated vascular pattern that appears as a lace-like purplish discoloration of the skin.[1] The discoloration is caused by swelling of the venules owing to obstruction of capillaries by small blood clots. The blood clots in the small blood vessels can be a secondary effect of a condition that increases a person's risk of forming blood clots, including a wide array of pathological and nonpathological conditions. Examples include hyperlipidemia, microvascular hematological or anemia states, nutritional deficiencies, hyper- and autoimmune diseases, and drugs/toxins.

Livedo reticularis
Livedo reticularis secondary to obscure severe infrarenal aortoiliac stenosis with severe transient lactic acidosis.
SpecialtyDermatology, cardiology 

The condition may be normal or related to more severe underlying pathology.[2] Its differential diagnosis is broadly divided into possible blood diseases, autoimmune (rheumatologic) diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and endocrine disorders. It can usually (in 80% of cases) be diagnosed by biopsy.[3]

It may be aggravated by exposure to cold, and occurs most often in the lower extremities.

The condition's name derives from the Latin livere which means bluish, and reticular which refers to the net-like pattern.[4]


A number of conditions may cause the appearance of livedo reticularis:


Livedo reticularis is diagnosed by its clinical appearance and history. No further test or examination confirms idiopathic livedo reticularis, however, further investigations may be undertaken where an underlying cause is suspected such as skin biopsies, or blood tests for antibodies associated with antiphospholipid syndrome or systemic lupus erythematosus.[45]


Other than identifying and treating any underlying conditions in secondary livedo,[46] idiopathic livedo reticularis may improve with warming the area. A further treatment option for livedo reticularis of the lower limbs is chemical lumbar sympathectomy.[47] Scientists at Peking University have developed a protocol to minimise complications traditionally linked to this procedure. Known as "selective chemical lumbar sympathectomy" it involves injecting an inactivating agent behind the anterior fascia, which only targets gray rami communicantes, to help achieve therapeutic efficacy in vasodilation.[48]

See also


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  2. "livedo reticularis" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  3. Kroshinsky; Stone, John H.; Bloch, Donald B.; Sepehr, Alireza (February 2009). "Case 5-2009 — A 47-Year-Old Woman with a Rash and Numbness and Pain in the Legs". New England Journal of Medicine. 360 (7): 711–20. doi:10.1056/NEJMcpc0807822. PMID 19213685.
  4. Sundriyal, Deepak; Kumar, Naveen; Kumar, Gaurav; Walia, Meenu (15 May 2014). "Livedo reticularis heralding hypercalcaemia of malignancy". Case Reports. 2014: bcr2013201371. doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-201371. PMC 4024535. PMID 24832704.
  5. Sneddon IB (April 1965). "Cerebro-Vascular Lesions And Livedo Reticularis". British Journal of Dermatology. 77 (4): 180–5. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.1965.tb14628.x. PMID 14278790.
  6. Gibbs, Mark B.; English, Joseph C.; Zirwas, Matthew J. (2005). "Livedo reticularis: an update". J Am Acad Dermatol. 52 (6): 1009–19. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2004.11.051. PMID 15928620.
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  9. Sigmund W, Shelley W (1954). "Cutaneous manifestations of acute pancreatitis, with special reference to livedo reticularis". N Engl J Med. 251 (21): 851–3. doi:10.1056/NEJM195411182512104. PMID 13214346.
  10. Gould, Jennifer W.; Helms, Stephen E.; Schulz, Susan M.; Stevens, Seth R. (1998). "Relapsing livedo reticularis in the setting of chronic pancreatitis". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 39 (6): 1035–1036. doi:10.1016/S0190-9622(98)70290-7. PMID 9843029.
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