Merck Manual

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Clubbing

By

Rebecca Dezube

, MD, MHS, Johns Hopkins University

Reviewed/Revised Nov 2023
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Topic Resources

Clubbing is enlargement of the tips of the fingers or toes and a change in the angle where the nails emerge.

Clubbing occurs when the amount of soft tissue beneath the nail beds increases. It is not clear why the soft tissue increases, but it may be related to the levels of proteins that stimulate blood vessel growth. Clubbing occurs in some lung disorders (such as lung cancer Lung Cancer Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. About 85% of cases are related to cigarette smoking. One common symptom is a persistent cough or a change in the character... read more Lung Cancer , lung abscess Abscess in the Lungs A lung abscess is a pus-filled cavity in the lung surrounded by inflamed tissue and caused by an infection. A lung abscess is usually caused by bacteria that normally live in the mouth and are... read more , pulmonary fibrosis Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is the most common form of idiopathic interstitial pneumonia. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis affects mostly people over the age of 50 years, usually people who have... read more , and bronchiectasis Bronchiectasis Bronchiectasis is an irreversible widening (dilation) of portions of the breathing tubes or airways (bronchi) resulting from damage to the airway wall. The most common cause is severe or repeated... read more ) but not in others (pneumonia Overview of Pneumonia Pneumonia is an infection of the small air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) and the tissues around them. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of death worldwide. The most common symptom of... read more Overview of Pneumonia and asthma Asthma Asthma is a condition in which the airways narrow—usually reversibly—in response to certain stimuli. Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that occur in response to specific triggers are... read more Asthma ). Clubbing also occurs in some heart disorders that occur before birth and in liver disorders. In some cases, clubbing may be inherited and not indicate any disorder. Clubbing itself does not need treatment.

Recognizing Finger Clubbing

Finger clubbing is characterized by enlarged fingertips and a loss of the normal angle at the nail bed.

Recognizing Finger Clubbing
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