Skeletal limb abnormalities
Skeletal limb abnormalities refers to a variety of bone structure problems in the arms or legs (limbs).
The term skeletal limb abnormalities is most often used to describe defects in the legs or arms that are due to a problem with genes or chromosomes, or that occur due to an event that happens during pregnancy.
The abnormalities are often present at birth.
Limb abnormalities can develop after birth if a person has rickets or other diseases that affect bone structure.
Rickets is a disorder caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. It leads to softening and weakening of the bones.
Skeletal limb abnormalities may be due to any of the following:
- Genetic diseases and chromosomal abnormalities, including Marfan syndrome, Down syndrome, Apert syndrome, and Basal cell nevus syndrome
Marfan syndrome is a disorder of connective tissue. This is the tissue that strengthens the body's structures. Disorders of connective tissue affect...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Apert syndrome is a genetic disease in which the seams between the skull bones close earlier than normal. This affects the shape of the head and fac...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Improper position in the womb
- Infections during pregnancy
- Injury during birth
- Metabolism problems
- Pregnancy problems, including limb amputation from amniotic band disruption sequence
- Use of certain medicines during pregnancy including thalidomide, which causes the upper part of the arms or legs to be missing, and aminopterin, which leads to shortness of the forearm
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have any concerns about limb length or appearance.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
An infant with limb abnormalities generally has other symptoms and signs that, when taken together, define a specific syndrome or condition or give a clue as to the cause of the abnormality. Diagnosis is based on a family history, medical history, and thorough physical evaluation.
Medical history questions may include:
- Does anyone in your family have skeletal abnormalities?
- Were there any problems during pregnancy?
- What drugs or medicines were taken during the pregnancy?
- What other symptoms or abnormalities are present?
Karyotyping is a test to examine chromosomes in a sample of cells. This test can help identify genetic problems as the cause of a disorder or diseas...
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Deeney VF, Arnold J. Orthopedics. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Norwalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2018:chap 22.
Herring JA. Skeletal dysplasias. In: Herring JA, ed. Tachdjian's Pediatric Orthopaedics. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 40.
Moore KL, Persaud TVN, Torchia MG. Skeletal system. In: Moore KL, Persaud TVN, Torchia MG, eds. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 14.
Review Date: 10/11/2018
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.