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Ophthalmology. 1997 Jan;104(1):79-85.

Ocular ultrasound in Alagille syndrome: a new sign.

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Oxford Eye Hospital, England.



Alagille syndrome (AS) is one of six forms of familial intrahepatic cholestasis, all of which present with neonatal jaundice and paucity of intrahepatic bile ducts. Differentiation of these individual syndromes is crucial as their treatments and prognoses vary. It is the ophthalmic features, posterior embryotoxon on particular, that distinguish AS.


The authors performed full ocular examination, including A- and B-scan ultrasound, refraction, and, where possible, fluorescein angiography in 20 unrelated children with AS and 8 with non-AS-related cholestasis.


There was ultrasound evidence of optic disc drusen in at least one eye in 95% and bilateral disc drusen in 80% of patients with AS but in none of the patients who were non-AS at the time of examination. Independent review of hard-copy scans suggested drusen in at least one eye in 90% of the cases and bilateral drusen in 50%, although this latter figure rose to 65% on review of the angiograms. This is markedly higher than the incidence in the normal population (0.3%-2%). Axial lengths were shorter than expected for the older age group (older than 10 years of age), but this was not associated with gross ametropia.


This strong association of AS and optic disc drusen has not been reported previously and represents not only the first significant association between a systemic condition and disc drusen but also a possibly useful tool in the diagnosis of AS, especially in young children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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