Early VEP and ERG evidence of visual dysfunction in autosomal recessive osteopetrosis

Neuropediatrics. 1998 Jun;29(3):137-44. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-973550.


Autosomal recessive (AR) osteopetrosis has a rapid course and manifests in the first months of life. Visual loss occurs because of optic nerve compromise, and more rarely retinal dysfunction (which may be a part of a primary neurodegeneration). The only curative treatment currently available is bone marrow transplantation (BMT). It has been suggested that BMT is contraindicated if AR osteopetrosis is associated with a primary neurodegeneration. Visual impairment tends to be irreversible after BMT. The young age of the patients makes reliable, objective tests of visual function especially important. We have reviewed the flash electroretinograms (ERGs) and flash and pattern visual evoked potentials (VEPs) recorded without sedation from 15 patients with AR osteopetrosis, 11 of whom were recorded longitudinally. The most frequent, early indication of visual dysfunction was a delay in the pattern or flash VEP latency. This first affects the pattern reversal VEP to small checks. Importantly this often preceded fundal changes of optic disc pallor, and evidence of optic nerve compression on neuroimaging. Only two patients had ERG evidence of retinal dysfunction affecting both rods and cones. One of these patients had a distinctive fundal appearance, but did not have evidence of associated neuronal degenerative disease. The other patient was lost to follow-up. In the patients reviewed in this study successful BMT and optic nerve decompression did not result in VEP improvement. Fundoscopy, VEP and ERG testing are indicated when the diagnosis of AR osteopetrosis is suspected and provide a useful means of monitoring visual involvement.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Disease Progression
  • Electroretinography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Optic Nerve / physiopathology
  • Osteopetrosis / complications
  • Osteopetrosis / congenital
  • Osteopetrosis / physiopathology*
  • Osteopetrosis / therapy
  • Retina / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision Disorders / diagnosis
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiopathology*