Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

What are the types of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes?

Classical type
(formerly types I & II)

Marked joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility (laxity), and fragility are characteristic of the classic type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The smooth, velvety skin is fragile and tears or bruises easily with minor trauma. Joint dislocations and scoliosis are common. Joint instability can lead to sprains and strains. This classical type is inherited as an autosomal dominant genetic trait (directly passed on from one parent to child).

Hypermobility type
(formerly type III)

Joint hypermobility is the major manifestation of this form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Any joint can be affected, and dislocations are frequent. This type is also inherited as an autosomal dominant genetic trait.

Vascular type
(formerly type IV, the arterial form)

In this form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, spontaneous rupture of arteries and bowel is a serious manifestation that can lead to death. Clubfoot can be present at birth. Skin laxity is of varying degrees. Veins can be very visible through the skin. It is primarily inherited as an autosomal dominant (directly passed on from one parent to child) genetic trait, but recessive (not seen in family members or only in one generation of members of the same family, meaning that an individual must inherit two copies of the mutation, one from each parent) trait inheritance has been described.

Kyphoscoliosis type
(formerly type VI)

Fragile globe of the eyes, significant skin and joint laxity, and severe curvature of the spine (scoliosis) are typical features. Its inheritance pattern is autosomal recessive.

Arthrochalsia type
(formerly type VIIB, arthrochalasis multiplex congenita)

Patients are short in height and severely affected by joint laxity and dislocations. Skin involvement is variable. Both utosomal dominant and recessive inheritance is possible. A skin biopsy can be used to diagnose this disorder.

Dermatosparaxis type
(formerly type VIIC)

Patients have severely fragile skin that is soft and doughy with sagging and folding. This rare form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can be diagnosed with a skin biopsy.

Tenascin-X deficient type

Joint hypermobility, hyperelastic skin, and fragile tissue are seen. Patients with this type lack the multiple shrinking (atrophied) scars in the skin that are often seen in classic Ehlers-Danlos. It is inherited as an autosomal recessive genetic trait.

Other rare variant types have been reported in single families.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/4/2016

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