Marfan syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms can vary from person to person.
In most cases, adiagnosis will be based ona thorough physical examination and a detailed assessmentof aperson'smedical and family history.
There are a number of criteria that your GP or geneticist a gene specialistwill measure your symptoms against.
Your doctor willcarry out a physical examination, which should include:
As well as the varied signs and symptoms of Marfan syndrome , it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish the syndrome from other syndromesthat affect the body's connective tissue, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Beals syndrome.
TheMarfan Foundation (USA) has more infomation about disorders related to Marfan syndrome .
As well as carrying out a physical examination, your GP will have a detailed look at your:
Marfan syndrome can be particularly difficult to diagnose in children, and it's rare for it to be diagnosed in a young child.
This is because most of the signs and symptoms don't usually appear until later childhood and theteenage years.
If Marfan syndrome is suspected, your child will be carefully monitored so any developing symptoms can be detected and treated as soon as possible.
Your GP may compare the signs and symptoms against the Ghent criteria. This is a diagnostic tool that helps GPs and other healthcare professionals tell the difference between Marfan syndrome and other similar syndromes.
The Ghent criteria consists of major and minor criteria. The major criteria are features or symptoms common in people with Marfan syndromethat arerare in people who don't have it.
Minor criteria are features or symptoms present in people with Marfan syndrome, but are also present in people who don't have it.
To be diagnosed with Marfan syndrome using the Ghent criteria, you must have a number of different symptoms.
If you have a family history of Marfan syndrome, you'll need to have one of the major criteria and one of the minor criteria.
If you don't have a family history of Marfan syndrome, you'll need to have two major criteria and one of the minor criteria.
Some of the major and minor criteria used to help diagnose Marfan syndrome are listed below.
Major criteria can include:
Minor criteria can include:
Your GP may arrange for you to have some additional tests at a hospital or clinic. This will help detect any potentially serious symptoms, such as an enlarged aorta.
Some of the tests you may have include:
Although the gene that causes Marfan syndrome has been identified, it can change (mutate) inmore than3,000 different ways. Genes are single units of genetic material.
Agenetic test can be used to examine the gene responsiblefor Marfan syndrome. It's able to detectan errorthat causes thesyndrome in 99% of those affected. However, the test is expensive and takes three months to complete.
In most cases, a diagnosis of Marfan syndrome will be made from the physical features and symptoms of the syndrome.
The sample can then be tested for genetic conditions.
Amniocentesiscan also be used to test for Marfan syndrome. The test is carried out about 16 to 18 weeks into the pregnancy and involves taking a small sample of amniotic fluid for examination. Amniotic fluid surrounds the unborn baby in the womb.
Although prenatal testsmay show whether your child has the defective gene that causesMarfan syndrome,the testswon't give any indication as to how serious their symptoms will be. Generally, the baby will be affected to the same extent as other peoplein their family.
The severity of Marfan syndrome in the parent is an indication of how severe it will be in the child. Your child may only experience very mild symptoms, despite having the genetic mutation. This is becausethe expression of the gene can vary, even within the same family.
In some cases, the results of CVS or amniocentesis could be negative, suggesting that your child doesn't have the defective gene. However, your child may have a different genetic mutation that wasn't tested for,but could still cause Marfan syndrome.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a technique where eggs and sperm are harvested from the parents so embryos can be created in a laboratory.
Only unaffected embryos are available for implantation in the womb. The process takes about 12 months.
PGD is only an option after a person with Marfan syndrome has been identified as having a Marfan gene mutation and wants to become a parent. The NHS will fund a couple to have one unaffected child by PGD.
Find out what Marfan syndrome is, what causes it, plus how it's diagnosed and treated.
Read about the possible symptoms of Marfan syndrome, which can affect the skeleton, eyes, and heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular system).
Find out how Marfan syndrome is diagnosed. In most cases, a diagnosis is based on a thorough physical examination and assessment of a person's medical and family history.