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Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Classic Type.


GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2018.
2007 May 29 [updated 2011 Aug 18].

Author information

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium
Division of Human Genetics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio



Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), classic type is a connective tissue disorder characterized by skin hyperextensibility, abnormal wound healing, and joint hypermobility. It includes two previously designated subtypes (EDS type I and EDS type II) that are now recognized to form a continuum of clinical findings. The skin is smooth, velvety to the touch, and hyperelastic; i.e., it extends easily and snaps back after release (unlike lax, redundant skin, as in cutis laxa). The skin is fragile, as manifested by splitting of the dermis following relatively minor trauma, especially over pressure points (knees, elbows) and areas prone to trauma (shins, forehead, chin). Wound healing is delayed, and stretching of scars after apparently successful primary wound healing is characteristic. Complications of joint hypermobility, such as dislocations of the shoulder, patella, digits, hip, radius, and clavicle, usually resolve spontaneously or are easily managed by the affected individual. Other features include hypotonia with delayed motor development, fatigue and muscle cramps, and easy bruising. Less common findings include mitral and tricuspid valve prolapse, aortic root dilatation, and spontaneous rupture of large arteries.


The diagnosis of EDS, classic type is established by family history and clinical examination. Quantitative and qualitative studies of type V collagen chains are usually not useful in confirming a diagnosis. At least 50% of individuals with classic EDS have an identifiable pathogenic variant in COL5A1 or COL5A2, the genes encoding type V collagen; however, this number may be an underestimate, since no prospective molecular studies of COL5A1 and COL5A2 have been performed in a clinically well-defined group.


Treatment of manifestations: Children with hypotonia and delayed motor development benefit from physiotherapy. Non-weight-bearing exercise promotes muscle strength and coordination. Anti-inflammatory drugs may alleviate joint pain. Those with hypotonia, joint instability, and chronic pain may need to adapt lifestyles accordingly. Dermal wounds are closed without tension, preferably in two layers. For other wounds, deep stitches are applied generously; cutaneous stitches are left in place twice as long as usual; and the borders of adjacent skin are carefully taped to prevent stretching of the scar. Cardiovascular problems are treated in a standard manner. Prevention of primary manifestations: Young children with skin fragility can wear pads or bandages over the forehead, knees, and shins to avoid skin tears. Older children can wear soccer pads or ski stockings with shin padding during activities. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may reduce bruising. Surveillance: Yearly echocardiogram when aortic dilatation and/or mitral valve prolapse are present. Agents/circumstances to avoid: Acetylsalicylate; sports that strain joints.


EDS, classic type is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. It is estimated that approximately 50% of affected individuals have inherited the pathogenic variant from an affected parent, and approximately 50% of affected individuals have a de novo pathogenic variant. Each child of an affected individual has a 50% chance of inheriting the pathogenic variant. Prenatal testing for pregnancies at increased risk is possible for families in which the variant has been identified in an affected family member.

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