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Vasc Endovascular Surg. 2002 May-Jun;36(3):213-7.

The Ehlers-Danlos specter revisited.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Richard L. Roudebush VA Hospital, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis, IN, USA.


Ehlers-Danlos type IV is a major concern to vascular surgeons because it is often associated with spontaneous hemorrhage from arteries containing decreased type III collagen. Five members of a family with Ehlers-Danlos type IV and a review of another family of five with Ehlers-Danlos type IV are reported. Evaluation of the recent family included clinical evaluation as well as assay of collagen production. The age range of the three involved females and two males was 7 to 52 years. The father of the affected family had a spontaneous colon perforation at age 39. His son, at age 27, had a spontaneous rupture of the iliac artery. Revascularization was accomplished with difficulty. His daughter had a large cerebral bleed. Two granddaughters, ages 7, have not had any bleeding or aneurysmal events. The amount of type III collagen was only 10% of normal in the patient with the iliac artery rupture. The three females all exhibited similarly low levels of type III collagen. The father's type III collagen level was not sufficiently low to confirm Ehlers-Danlos type IV, although he had a spontaneous colon perforation. In the other Ehlers-Danlos type IV family of five, the three surviving members had type III collagen levels as low as 5% of normal. Two family members died after spontaneous iliac rupture at ages 24 and 33. Both families exhibited an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. Ehlers-Danlos type IV remains a challenging problem for vascular surgeons. It is transmitted as an autosomal dominant inheritance with a high degree of penetrance. Spontaneous arterial and intestinal perforations should alert the clinician to the possibility of Ehlers-Danlos type IV. Patients should be evaluated noninvasively. Arterial repairs may not be successful in these patients because the vessels are extremely friable. Assays of collagen production are advisable in establishing the diagnosis.

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