Apert syndrome is a condition involving abnormal growth of the skull and the face due to early fusion of certain sutures of the skull. Children with Apert's have bulging eyes that are usually wide-set and tilted down at the sides. They usually have problems with teeth alignment due to the underdevelopment of the upper jaw. Some have cleft palate. Among other anomalies, children with Apert syndrome have webbed fingers and toes.
Apert syndrome, also known as acrocephalosyndactyly type I (ACS1), is a rare genetic disorder that is apparent at birth (congenital). The disorder is character-ized by distinctive malformations of the head that lead to distinctive facial features. In addition, the hands and/or feet may be webbed (syndactyly) and in some cases, mental retardation may also be present. Among babies born with Apert syndrome, the fibrous joints between bones of the skull (sutures) close prematurely (craniosynostosis). The pressure of continued brain growth distorts various bones of the skull and the face. The skull is forced into one of several characteristic shapes. Often the head appears abnormally pointed at the top (acrocephaly). The distortion of the skull plates create changes in the facial bones leading to characteristic facial abnormalities, such as widely spaced eyes (ocular hypertelorism), abnormal protrusion of the eyes (exophthalmos), underdevelopment of midfacial regions (midface hypoplasia), and/or a narrow roof of the mouth (palate). Malformations of the hands and feet may include unusually broad thumbs and great toes, short fingers, and/or partial to complete fusion (syndactyly) of certain fingers and toes (digits). Most commonly, there is complete fusion of bones within the second to the fourth fingers and the presence of a single common nail ("mitten-like" syndactyly). In almost all instances, Apert syndrome results from new genetic changes (mutations) that appear to occur randomly for unknown reasons (sporadically). In rare cases, the disorder may be inherited as an autosomal dominant trait.
Apert syndrome appears to affect males and females in relatively equal numbers. Since the disorder was originally described in the medical literature in 1894 (Wheaton SW) and 1906 (Apert E), over 300 cases have been reported. The disorder is estimated to occur in about one in 165,000 to 200,000 births.
The treatment of Apert syndrome is directed toward the specific symptoms that are apparent in each individual. Such treatment may require the coordinated efforts of a team of medical professionals, such as pediatricians; surgeons, physicians who diagnose and treat disorders of the skeleton, joints, muscles, and related tissues (orthopedists), physicians who specialize in disorders of the ears, nose, and throat (otolaryngologists), physicians who diagnose and treat heart abnormalities (cardiologists), hearing specialists, and/or other health care professionals.
Specific therapies for Apert syndrome are symptomatic and supportive. Craniosynostosis and, in some cases, associated hydrocephalus may result in abnormally increased pressure within the skull (intracranial pressure) and on the brain. In such cases, early surgery (within 2 to 4 months after birth) may be advised to correct craniosynostosis and, for those with hydrocephalus, to insert a tube (shunt) to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) away from the brain and into another part of the body where the CSF can be absorbed. Early corrective and reconstructive surgery may also be performed in some infants with Apert syndrome to help correct certain associated craniofacial abnormalities.
Additional surgical and/or medical treatment may be required to treat and correct other symptoms.
Genetic counseling will be of benefit for affected individuals and their families. Other treatment for this disorder is symptomatic and supportive.
Children's Craniofacial Association