Orthopaedic Manifestations of Neurofibromatosis Type 1


David S. Feldman, MD, Charles Jordan, MD and Lauren Fonseca, BA Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1) is an autosomal dominant disease that affects 1 in 3,000 persons worldwide. Café-au-lait macules and peripheral nerve sheath tumors (ie, neurofibromas) are the most commonly recognized manifestations of NF-1. However, NF-1 affects multiple organ systems, and a multidisciplinary approach to treatment is required. Management of the orthopaedic manifestations of NF-1 is often difficult. The most complex manifestations are scoliosis (dystrophic and nondystrophic), congenital pseudarthrosis of the tibia, and problems related to soft-tissue tumors. Metabolic bone disease is common; many patients are frankly osteopenic, which further complicates treatment. Dystrophic scoliosis, which may be caused by either bony dysplasia or intraspinal pathology, is characterized by early presentation and rapid progression. Pseudarthrosis is common even after instrumented fusion. Nondystrophic scoliosis tends to behave like adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, although it may present earlier and is associated with a higher rate of pseudarthrosis. Congenital pseudarthrosis of the tibia is a long-bone dysplasia that afflicts patients with NF-1. Management of this osseous deformity is challenging. Failure to achieve union and refracture are common.

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