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Arthrogryposis

  • Author: Harold Chen, MD, MS, FAAP, FACMG; Chief Editor: Maria Descartes, MD  more...
 
Updated: Mar 02, 2015
 

Background

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  • Arthrogryposis, or arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), comprises nonprogressive conditions characterized by multiple joint contractures found throughout the body at birth.[1]
  • The term is currently used in connection with a very heterogeneous group of disorders that all include the common feature of multiple congenital joint contractures.[2]
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Pathophysiology

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  • The major cause of arthrogryposis is fetal akinesia (ie, decreased fetal movements) due to fetal abnormalities (eg, neurogenic, muscle, or connective tissue abnormalities; mechanical limitations to movement) or maternal disorders (eg, infection, drugs, trauma, other maternal illnesses). Generalized fetal akinesia can also lead to polyhydramnios, pulmonary hypoplasia, micrognathia, ocular hypertelorism, and short umbilical cord.
  • During early embryogenesis, joint development is almost always normal. Motion is essential for the normal development of joints and their contiguous structures; lack of fetal movement causes extra connective tissue to develop around the joint. This results in fixation of the joint, limiting movement and further aggravating the joint contracture. Contractures secondary to fetal akinesia are more severe in patients in whom the diagnosis is made early in pregnancy and in those who experience akinesia for longer periods of time during gestation.
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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

  • The frequency is about 1 in 3,000 live births.[3, 4]

International

  • Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita is more common in isolated populations such as Finland and the Bedouin community in Israel.[5]

Mortality/Morbidity

See the list below:

  • The life span of affected individuals depends on the disease severity and associated malformations but is usually normal.
  • About 50% of patients with limb involvement and CNS dysfunction die in the first year of life.
  • Scoliosis may compromise respiratory function.

Race

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  • No racial predilection has been described.

Sex

See the list below:

  • Males are primarily affected in X-linked recessive disorders; otherwise, males and females are equally affected.

Age

See the list below:

  • Arthrogryposis is detectable at birth or in utero using ultrasonography.
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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Harold Chen, MD, MS, FAAP, FACMG Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Louisiana State University Medical Center

Harold Chen, MD, MS, FAAP, FACMG is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Medical Association, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Maria Descartes, MD Professor, Department of Human Genetics and Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Maria Descartes, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Medical Association, American Society of Human Genetics, Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders, International Skeletal Dysplasia Society, Southeastern Regional Genetics Group

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

James Bowman, MD Senior Scholar of Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago

James Bowman, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society of Human Genetics, Central Society for Clinical and Translational Research, College of American Pathologists

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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An infant with amyoplasia. Note internally rotated and adducted shoulders, fixed extended elbows, pronated forearms, flexed wrists and fingers, and severe talipes deformity.
An infant with distal arthrogryposis type I. Note medially overlapping fingers, tightly clenched fists, and positional foot contractures.
The hands of a patient with contractural arachnodactyly (Beals syndrome). Note the long, thin fingers with interphalangeal joint contractures.
A girl with an autosomal recessive type of multiple pterygium syndrome. Note the multiple joint contractures at the knees with marked pterygia, including intercrural webbing, affecting her stance and ambulation.
A mother and child both affected with trismus pseudocamptodactyly. Note the small mouth (with limited ability to open) and flexion contractures of fingers on dorsiflexion.
Twins with a lethal type of autosomal recessive multiple pterygium syndrome. Note the multiple joint contractures with marked pterygia, cardiac and lung hypoplasia, and characteristic facies.
An infant with a lethal type of multiple pterygium syndrome. Note multiple joint contractures with marked pterygia and a cystic hygroma on the posterior aspect of the head and the neck.
The photograph on the left shows an infant with fetal akinesia. Note depressed nasal bridge, micrognathia, flexion contractures of elbows, bilateral clubhands, and arthrogryposis of fingers. The radiograph on the right shows an infant with fetal akinesia. Note gracile ribs; thin, long bones with multiple fractures at mid diaphyses of the humeri, distal diaphyses of the femora, and proximal diaphyses of both tibiae and left fibula; and clubhands.
An infant with Pena-Shokeir syndrome. Note characteristic facies (ocular hypertelorism; short nose with depressed bridge; small and markedly recessed jaw; low-set, malformed ears), short neck, mild contracture at the hip, moderate contractures at elbows and knees, severe ankle contractures, and camptodactyly with ulnar deviation of the hands.
 
 
 
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