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Prenat Diagn. 2002 Jan;22(1):42-7.

Heterogeneity in fetal akinesia deformation sequence (FADS): autopsy confirmation in three 20-21-week fetuses.

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  • 1Department of Anatomic Pathology, University of Maryland Medical System, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Fetal akinesia deformation sequence (FADS) is a rare condition characterized by intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), congenital limb contractures, pulmonary hypoplasia, hydramnios and craniofacial abnormalities. The present report comprises an autopsy study of three fetuses to illustrate the variable clinical manifestations and neuropathological findings. Fetus 1 had arthrogryposis and no movement on fetal ultrasound examination. Aborted at 21 weeks, the fetus showed micrognathia, bilateral joint contracture with pterygia at the elbow and axilla. Growth retardation and pulmonary hypoplasia were not major features. Neuropathologic examination revealed anterior horn cell loss and lateral corticospinal tract degeneration in spinal cord, with marked muscular atrophy. Fetus 2, 20 weeks' gestation, had fetal akinesia, nuchal thickening, left pleural effusion, and Dandy-Walker malformation on ultrasound examination. Autopsy showed low-set ears, ocular hypertelorism, cleft palate, flexion contractures with pterygia over axilla, elbow and groin, pulmonary hypoplasia, Dandy-Walker malformation, unremarkable spinal cord and skeletal muscle. Fetus 3, 21 weeks' gestation, was aborted for fetal akinesia, neck and limb webbing and severe arthrogryposis. At autopsy, similar facial abnormalities, contracture and pterygia in neck and multiple major joints were found. Borderline pulmonary hypoplasia and severe lumbar scoliosis were also present. The brain, spinal cord and muscle were unremarkable. In these three fetuses, the prenatal ultrasound and autopsy findings were characteristic of FADS. Neurogenic spinal muscular atrophy was the basis of fetal akinesia in Case 1. Dandy-Walker malformation was present in Case 2, but the pathogenetic mechanism of fetal akinesia was not clear as spinal cord and muscle histology appeared normal. The etiology of akinesia was undetermined in Case 3; no extrinsic or intrinsic cause was identified.

Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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