Facts about Osteogenesis Imperfecta
|Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily. It is also known as “brittle bone disease.” A person is born with this disorder and is affected throughout his or her life time.
Testing and Diagnosis
Diagnosis for OI is primarily based on signs seen in a doctor’s examination. When there is uncertainty about the diagnosis, it is best to consult a physician who is familiar with OI. Genetic testing is available to confirm a diagnosis of OI through collagen or gene analysis—a skin sample or a blood sample are used to study the amount of Type I collagen or to do a DNA analysis.
Since 1979, OI has been classified by type according to a system based on mode of inheritance, clinical picture, and information from x-rays. The characteristic features of OI vary greatly from person to person, even among people with the same type of OI, and even within the same family. Not all characteristics are evident in each person. The OI type descriptions provide general information about how severe the symptoms probably will be. Health issues frequently seen in children and adults who have OI include:
See Types of OI for a detailed description.
Doctors who see children and adults with OI include primary care physicians, orthopedists, endocrinologists, geneticists and physiatrists (rehabilitation specialists). Other specialists such as a neurologist may be needed.
Treatments Being Studied
At this time, there is no cure.
The prognosis for a person with OI varies greatly depending on the number and severity of symptoms.
The most severe forms result in death at birth or during infancy.
Despite the challenges of managing OI, most adults and children who have OI lead productive and successful lives. They attend school, develop friendships and other relationships, have careers, raise families, participate in sports and other recreational activities and are active members of their communities.
History of OI in Medical Literature
There is evidence that OI has affected people throughout history. OI has been recognized in an Egyptian mummy dating from 1000 BC. It has also been identified as the medical condition suffered by Ivan the Boneless who lived in 9th century Denmark. Prince Ivan, according to legend, was carried into battle on a shield because he was unable to walk on his soft legs.
Case studies of fragile bones and hearing loss have appeared in the medical literature since the 1600s.The term “osteogenesis imperfecta” was originated by W. Vrolik in 1849, and the condition was loosely divided into “congenita” and “tarda” by E. Looser in 1906. Van der Hoeve in 1918 described the occurrence of fragile bones, in combination with blue sclera and early deafness as a distinct inherited syndrome.
In the 1970s, Dr. David Sillence and his team of researchers in Australia developed the system of categorization using “Types” that is currently in use. His original four classifications (Type I, Type II, Type III and Type IV) combine clinical symptoms with genetic components. This listing is based on the number of people in the study who had similar symptoms. The types do not go from mildest to most severe. This classification system has been generally accepted world wide since 1979 but continues to evolve as new information is discovered. In recent years, evidence from bone biopsies and other research led to the addition of Types V, VI, VII and VIII.
For more detailed information on these topics and others related to understanding and living with OI see the Resources section of this website.
Source: OI Foundation