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Abstract

Objective

To demonstrate the high frequency and lack of diagnosis of joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS) and the seriousness of vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (VEDS).

Methods

Two hundred forty-nine Chilean patients with hereditary disorders of the connective tissues (CTDs) and 64 control subjects were evaluated for the diagnoses of JHS and VEDS using the validated Brighton criteria, as compared with the traditional Beighton score. In addition, the presence of blue sclera was determined, with the degree of intensity graded as mild, moderate, or marked.

Results

The frequency of hereditary CTDs was 35%, with diagnoses of JHS in 92.4% of subjects, VEDS in 7.2%, and osteogenesis imperfecta in 0.4%. The Beighton score proved to be insufficient for the diagnosis of JHS (35% of subjects had a negative score), whereas the Brighton criteria yielded positive findings (a diagnosis of JHS) in 39% of control subjects. Blue sclera was frequent, being identified in 97% of JHS patients and 94% of VEDS patients. Moderate osteopenia/osteoporosis was observed in 50% of patients with VEDS and 26% of those with JHS. Dysautonomia, dyslipidemia, and scoliosis were more frequent in VEDS patients than in JHS patients. The typical JHS facial appearance and the “hand holding the head sign” were identified. Raynaud's phenomenon was extremely rare in JHS patients (2%). Ruptured uterus and cerebral aneurysm occurred in 12% and 6% of VEDS patients, respectively. Spontaneous pneumothorax was more frequent in VEDS patients (11%) than in JHS patients (0.9%).

Conclusion

JHS is very frequent but usually undiagnosed. The Beighton score is an insufficient method for JHS diagnosis. We recommend that physicians learn to recognize the typical facial features of JHS and be able to identify blue sclera. We also propose that validated hypermobility criteria be routinely used. Further research is needed to determine why the prevalence of JHS is so high in Chile.