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Skeletal Radiol. 2014 Sep;43(9):1205-15. doi: 10.1007/s00256-014-1899-1. Epub 2014 May 25.

Thanatophoric dysplasia. Correlation among bone X-ray morphometry, histopathology, and gene analysis.

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Orthopaedic Clinic, Department of Medical and Surgical Specialties, Radiological Sciences and Public Health, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy,



Documentation through X-ray morphometry and histology of the steady phenotype expressed by FGFR3 gene mutation and interpolation of mechanical factors on spine and long bones dysmorphism.


Long bones and spine of eight thanatophoric dysplasia and three age-matched controls without skeletal dysplasia were studied after pregnancy termination between the 18th and the 22nd week with X-ray morphometry, histology, and molecular analysis. Statistical analysis with comparison between TD cases and controls and intraobserver/interobserver variation were applied to X-ray morphometric data.


Generalized shortening of long bones was observed in TD. A variable distribution of axial deformities was correlated with chondrocyte proliferation inhibition, defective seriate cell columns organization, and final formation of the primary metaphyseal trabeculae. The periosteal longitudinal growth was not equally inhibited, so that decoupling with the cartilage growth pattern produced the typical lateral spurs around the metaphyseal growth plates. In spine, platyspondyly was due to a reduced height of the vertebral body anterior ossification center, while its enlargement in the transversal plane was not restricted. The peculiar radiographic and histopathological features of TD bones support the hypothesis of interpolation of mechanical factors with FGFR3 gene mutations.


The correlated observations of X-ray morphometry, histopathology, and gene analysis prompted the following diagnostic workup for TD: (1) prenatal sonography suspicion of skeletal dysplasia; (2) post-mortem X-ray morphometry for provisional diagnosis; (3) confirmation by genetic tests (hot-spot exons 7, 10, 15, and 19 analysis with 80-90% sensibility); (4) in negative cases if histopathology confirms TD diagnosis, research of rare mutations through sequential analysis of FGFR3 gene.

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