Background: It has been recently documented that multiple bilateral pigmented lesions at the level of the retinal pigment epithelium may be an indicator of patients with familial adenomatous polyposis who are prone to develop intestinal cancer, particularly if there is a positive family history of these intestinal disorders. Although atypical, such lesions have been called congenital hypertrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium (CHRPE). This study was undertaken to determine whether the typical lesions of CHRPE, seen frequently by ophthalmologists, also were indicators of familial adenomatous polyposis.
Methods: Review of charts and follow-up studies were performed on all patients diagnosed and coded as having solitary CHRPE or its multifocal variant (congenital grouped pigmentation; bear tracks). Patients and their physicians were contacted by telephone to complete a detailed questionnaire designed to detect signs or symptoms of familial adenomatous polyposis or Gardner syndrome among these patients with CHRPE and their relatives.
Results: Of the 132 patients with previously diagnosed CHRPE, there were none with familial adenomatous polyposis, Gardner syndrome, or intestinal cancer, and only one patient had a history of intestinal polyps. Among more than 2000 of their blood relatives, only 20 had intestinal polyposis or colonic cancer (1%). This is much lower than would be expected from a survey of patients with the typical fundus lesions seen with familial adenomatous polyposis.
Conclusions: It appears that solitary CHRPE and congenital grouped pigmentation differ clinically from the multiple pigmented lesions seen with familial adenomatous polyposis and that patients with these conditions, as well as their relatives, are not at a greater risk of developing intestinal cancer.