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Am Heart J. 2002 May;143(5):883-8.

The heart in neurofibromatosis type 1: an echocardiographic study.

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Medical Surgical Department of Cardio-Thoracic Sciences, and the Department of Pediatrics, Second University of Naples, Italy.



Comprehensive data are unavailable for cardiac abnormalities in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). The goal of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of cardiovascular abnormalities with echocardiography with color Doppler scan (ECHO) in a large, consecutive series of patients with NF1.


We studied 48 patients with NF1 (mean age, 10 years). Thirty healthy subjects comparable for age and sex served as the control group. All ECHO studies were performed by the same cardiologist and reviewed by a second cardiologist blinded to the physical findings of the subjects.


Cardiac abnormalities were found in 13 of the 48 young patients (27%). A secundum atrial septal defect with a left to right shunt was found in 2 children. ECHO evidence of mild left pulmonary artery stenosis was found in 1 participant. A moderate coarctation of the thoracic aorta was found in 1 patient. ECHO criteria for mitral valve prolapse and evidence of trivial mitral regurgitation with myxomatous mitral valve was present in 1 case. Mild mitral regurgitation was found in 2 patients. A regurgitant mild flow signal was detected from the aortic valve in 2 subjects. Atrial septal aneurysm was found in 2 patients without patent foramen ovale. Two patients had septal to posterior left ventricular free wall ratio greater than 1.5, suggesting hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.


This is the first attempt to evaluate the prevalence of cardiovascular abnormalities in patients with NF1 with ECHO. The study's most striking finding is the high prevalence of cardiovascular abnormalities. Congenital lesions have potential long-term hemodynamic consequences that justify an early diagnosis. Thus, a cardiologic assessment at regular intervals, including ECHO study, is mandatory for patients with NF1.

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