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Brain Dev. 1998 Oct;20(7):507-11.

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita.


The common factor causing congenital arthrogryposis is lack of fetal movements. This can result from a large number of disorders. They may be neuropathic, affecting the brain, the spinal cord, or the peripheral nerves; they may be abnormalities of the muscles, such as myasthenia gravis, congenital muscular dystrophies or mitochondrial cytopathies; they may be diseases of the connective tissues; or they may be conditions which limit the space within the uterus; or they may result from defects of the uterine environment. These are discussed in turn. Typical clinical findings are given and it is emphasised that the arthrogryposis is often a manifestation of certain syndromes, some the result of abnormal chromosomes. Although it is not within the scope of this review article to describe these in detail, examples are given. In particular the subgroup of distal arthrogryposes and amyoplasia are considered. The importance of trying to define a cause is especially the need to give reliable genetic advice to the parents and also to establish a prognosis. The diagnosis will often be made by the associated symptoms and signs, and sometimes by tests such as electromyography and muscle biopsy. Although some of the diseases will be fatal early in life, there are many instances when the child will survive into adult life; if due attention is given to the treatment, particularly orthopedic procedures, and to social and educational management. This can only be done realistically if there is a good idea of the natural history of the condition underlying the arthrogryposis.

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