Background: This study investigated the survival and natural history of trisomy 13 in a series of patients, comparing the management and outcome before and after the implementation of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program (NHI).
Methods: A total of 28 cases of trisomy 13 seen at Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, from 1985 to 2004 were retrospectively reviewed. Survival and management before (12 cases) and after (16 cases) the implementation of National Health Insurance were compared, and structural defects, imaging findings, and cytogenetic results were analyzed. The cases that were diagnosed prenatally, and finally terminated, were excluded from this study. The diagnosis of trisomy 13 was based on the postnatal chromosome analysis.
Results: All patients except one with trisomy 13 translocation died in their first year because of severe malformations of the cardiovascular or central nervous system. The median survival was 9 days. After implementation of National Health Insurance, survival with trisomy 13 was significantly longer than before (P < 0.05). The three most common structural defects were abnormal auricular helices or low-set ears (89%), cryptorchidism and abnormal scrotum of male (73%) and cleft lip and/or palate (71%). Using echocardiography, the most commonly detected heart defects were patent ductus arteriosus (68%), ventricular septal defect (50%) and atrial septal defect (50%), and eight cases (36%) had complex congenital heart defects. The most common brain lesion was lenticulostriate vasculopathy (22%), followed by holoprosencephaly (17%), brain edema (13%) and subependymal cyst (13%).
Conclusions: Early diagnosis and the survival patterns from the data collected should be used to inform parents and health-care professionals to assist in decision making. Although most patients with trisomy 13 die within the first weeks after birth, it is important to recognize that a few may survive the first year. When counseling families, the long-term survival prospects of trisomy 13 patients should be included.