Respiratory involvement in ambulant and non-ambulant patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy

J Neurol. 2017 Jun;264(6):1271-1280. doi: 10.1007/s00415-017-8525-9. Epub 2017 May 26.


Understand the occurrence and predictors of respiratory impairment in FSHD. Data from 100 FSHD patients was collected regarding demographics, genetics, respiratory status and pulmonary function tests, clinical manifestations and Clinical Severity Scale (CSS) scores. Patients were assigned to two severity groups using CSS: mild (scores <3.5) and moderate/severely affected (scores ≥3.5). Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) was classified as severely impaired if less than 50% of the predicted. Statistical analysis was performed using IBM SPSS Statistics 23, tests were two-tailed and the level of significance set at 5%. Spirometry was available for 94 patients; 41.5% had abnormal results with a restrictive pattern in 38.3% patients. There was a correlation between FVC; CSS score and D4Z4 fragment length with a higher probability of severe respiratory involvement in the early onset group, moderate/severe disease and D4Z4 fragments <18 kb. Patients with severe respiratory involvement showed a high prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing. FVC decline over time was indicative of three progression groups. Respiratory involvement for both ambulant and non-ambulant patients with FSHD is more frequent and severe than previously suggested. Sleep-disordered breathing is frequent and negatively influences the respiratory status. Annual screening of the respiratory status with spirometry and clinical assessment is thus warranted in FSHD patients, even while ambulant.

Keywords: Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy; Respiratory impairment; Restrictive lung function.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Facioscapulohumeral / complications*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Facioscapulohumeral / genetics
  • Respiration Disorders / diagnosis
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spirometry
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Vital Capacity / physiology