Skeletal ciliopathies: a pattern recognition approach

Jpn J Radiol. 2020 Mar;38(3):193-206. doi: 10.1007/s11604-020-00920-w. Epub 2020 Jan 21.


Ciliopathy encompasses a diverse group of autosomal recessive genetic disorders caused by mutations in genes coding for components of the primary cilia. Skeletal ciliopathy forms a subset of ciliopathies characterized by distinctive skeletal changes. Common skeletal ciliopathies include Jeune asphyxiating thoracic dysplasia, Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, Sensenbrenner syndrome, and short-rib polydactyly syndromes. These disorders share common clinical and radiological features. The clinical hallmarks comprise thoracic hypoplasia with respiratory failure, body disproportion with a normal trunk length and short limbs, and severely short digits occasionally accompanied by polydactyly. Reflecting the clinical features, the radiological hallmarks consist of a narrow thorax caused by extremely short ribs, normal or only mildly affected spine, shortening of the tubular bones, and severe brachydactyly with or without polydactyly. Other radiological clues include trident ilia/pelvis and cone-shaped epiphysis. Skeletal ciliopathies are commonly associated with extraskeletal anomalies, such as progressive renal degeneration, liver disease, retinopathy, cardiac anomalies, and cerebellar abnormalities. In this article, we discuss the radiological pattern recognition approach to skeletal ciliopathies. We also describe the clinical and genetic features of skeletal ciliopathies that the radiologists should know for them to play an appropriate role in multidisciplinary care and scientific advancement of these complicated disorders.

Keywords: Bone dysplasia; Ellis-van creveld syndrome (chondroectodermal dysplasia); Jeune asphyxiating thoracic dysplasia; Sensenbrenner syndrome (cranioectodermal dysplasia); Skeletal ciliopathy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / abnormalities*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Ciliopathies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Craniosynostoses / diagnostic imaging*
  • Dwarfism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ellis-Van Creveld Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Osteochondrodysplasias / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiography / methods*

Supplementary concepts

  • Acromesomelic dysplasia
  • Cranioectodermal Dysplasia