Thoracolumbar spinal abnormalities in stickler syndrome

Peter S. Rose, Nicholas U. Ahn, Howard P. Levy, Uri M. Ahn, Joie Davis, Ruth M. Liberfarb, Leelakrishna Nallamshetty, Paul D. Sponseller, Clair A. Francomano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: Retrospective review of clinical and radiographic records of patients with Stickler syndrome. Objectives: To describe thoracolumbar spinal abnormalities and their correlation with age and back pain among patients with Stickler syndrome. Summary of Background Data: Stickler syndrome (hereditary arthro-ophthalmopathy) is an autosomal dominant connective tissue disorder characterized by skeletal, ocular, oral-facial, cardiac, and auditory manifestations. Prevalence is approximately 1 in 10,000 (similar to that of Marfan syndrome). No one has investigated spinal abnormalities in a large series of patients. Methods: A single-center evaluation of 53 patients from 24 families with Stickler syndrome (age range, 1-70 years) in a multidisciplinary genetics clinic. Thoracolumbar radiographs were analyzed for spinal abnormalities and correlation with age and back pain. Results: Thirty-four percent of patients had scoliosis, 74% endplate abnormalities, 64% Schmorl's nodes, 43% platyspondylia, and 43% Scheuermann-like kyphosis. Sixty-seven percent of patients and 85% of adults reported chronic back pain. Endplate abnormalities and Schmorl's nodes were associated with adult age; endplate abnormalities, Schmorl's nodes, and adult age were associated with back pain. Only one adult patient was free of spinal abnormalities. Conclusions: Spinal abnormalities are nearly uniformly observed in Stickler syndrome, progress with age, and are associated with back pain. Although common, scoliosis is generally self-limited (only one patient needed surgical treatment). Correct diagnosis of this syndrome facilitates early identification and management of other potentially severe systemic manifestations and genetic counseling for affected families. Moreover, recognition of Stickler syndrome allows accurate prognosis for skeletal abnormalities and anticipation of potential surgical complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-409
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2001


  • Arthro-ophthalmopathy
  • Back pain
  • Connective tissue dysplasia
  • Kyphosis
  • Scoliosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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