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Health Newsfeed # 1524

SPINAL DYSPLASIA

Skeletal dysplasia is the medical term for what many of us know as dwarfism. Those born with such a condition prefer a simpler phrase: little people.

Science now knows which genetic mutation that causes the disorder. It canít be cured, but we can effectively treat some of the potentially crippling side effects that often come with abnormal shortness. One such condition is achondroplasia. It forces normally formed spinal cords to pass through abnormally narrow bones. This can pinch the nerves and cause great pain and problems with movement. Dr. Orest Hurko heads the Johns Hopkins Center for Skeletal Dysplasia. He says current surgical techniques can help.

What is gratifying about a lot of skeletal dysplasias as opposed to some of the other inherited diseases that I see in my practice, is usually the brain and the spinal cord are normally put together. So long as we keep the bones from pressing on them, patients can do fairly well.

Dr. Hurko says while the causes of achondroplasia are better understood than ever, no breakthrough genetic cure is in the foreseeable future.

At the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, I'm Tom Haederle reporting.

Copyright 2000 The Johns Hopkins University. All rights reserved.


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