Legg-Calve-Perthes' disease (LCP) is defined as avascular necrosis of the femoral head in a child and may present to a variety of disciplines from general practice to orthopaedics, paediatrics, rheumatology and more. The Stickler syndromes are a group of disorders of type II, IX and XI collagen associated with hip dysplasia, retinal detachment, deafness and cleft palate. The pathogenesis of LCP disease remains an enigma but there have been a small number of cases reporting variants in the gene encoding the α1 chain of type II collagen (COL2A1). Variants in COL2A1 are known to cause type 1 Stickler syndrome (MIM 108300, 609508), which is a connective tissue disorder with a very high risk of childhood blindness, and it is also associated with dysplastic development of the femoral head. It is unclear whether COL2A1 variants make a definitive contribution to both disorders, or whether the two are indistinguishable using current clinical diagnostic techniques. In this paper, we compare the two conditions and present a case series of 19 patients with genetically confirmed type 1 Stickler syndrome presenting with a historic diagnosis of LCP. In contrast to isolated LCP, children with type 1 Stickler syndrome have a very high risk of blindness from giant retinal tear detachment, but this is now largely preventable if a timely diagnosis is made. This paper highlights the potential for avoidable blindness in children presenting to clinicians with features suggestive of LCP disease but with underlying Stickler syndrome and proposes a simple scoring system to assist clinicians.
Keywords: Genetics; Ophthalmology; Paediatrics.
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