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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2003 Oct;62(10):977-89.

Congenital fiber type disproportion--30 years on.

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  • 1Institute for Neuromuscular Research, Children's Hospital at Westmead, Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


Thirty years ago, M. H. Brooke coined the term "congenital fiber type disproportion" (CFTD) to describe 12 children who had clinical features of a congenital myopathy and relative type 1 fiber hypotrophy on muscle biopsy. It is now clear that this histological pattern can accompany a wide range of neurological disorders, leading to disillusionment with CFTD as a distinct nosological entity. To determine whether the CFTD has clinical utility as a diagnostic entity, we have reviewed the literature for cases of type 1 fiber hypotrophy and have used strict exclusion criteria to identify 67 cases of CFTD. Most patients presented at birth with weakness and hypotonia, had normal intelligence, and followed a static or improving clinical course. In 43% of families, more than 1 individual was affected. Failure to thrive was common and 25% of patients had contractures or spinal deformities. Bulbar weakness and ophthalmoplegia were less common and cardiac involvement was rare. Twenty-five percent followed a severe course and 10% had died at the time of reporting, all from respiratory failure. Ophthalmoplegia and facial and bulbar weakness were significantly associated with a poorer prognosis. The relatively homogeneous phenotype supports the retention of CFTD as a distinct diagnostic entity and familial occurrence suggests a genetic basis. Regarding the diagnosis of CFTD, we found no strong evidence that the minimum difference between type 1 and type 2 fiber sizes should be increased from 12% to 25%. We also list the other reported causes of relative type 1 fiber hypotrophy to aid their exclusion from CFTD.

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