Article Abstract

The transition of pediatric Marfan patients to adult care: a challenge and its risks

Authors: Veronika C. Stark, Katrin Doering, Yskert von Kodolitsch, Rainer Kozlik-Feldmann, Götz C. Mueller, Jakob Olfe, Meike Rybczynski, Helke Schueler, Thomas S. Mir

Abstract

Background: Care for patients with Marfan syndrome (MFS) has improved substantially in recent decades. Increasing clinical knowledge and genetic analysis allow early diagnosis of the disease in childhood. Because of the earlier initiation to preventive and medical treatment, patients’ life expectancy has risen. To ensure optimal care, pediatric patients require a safe follow-up regime, multidisciplinary care, and a safe transition to adult care.
Methods: We collected a sample of 149 pediatric Marfan patients, of whom 34 patients had already been transferred to adult care or who were currently transitioning. First, we evaluated clinical aspects of patients that manifest in childhood and are present in the transition process. Second, we analyzed the transition process itself.
Results: We found age-dependent manifestation of organ pathologies. Dilatation of the sinus of Valsalva showed a particularly high prevalence during the transition process and 62% of patients required medical treatment. Mean onset of aortic root dilatation was 9.9±5.8 years. Concerning systemic manifestation in MFS skin striae, wrist and thumb sign, and reduced elbow extension occurred significantly more often in patients who were transitioning than in younger children with MFS. All other clinical Marfan features showed an increased prevalence in patients who were transitioning compared with younger patients. In our cohort, transition was successful in 20 patients (58.9%), 12 patients (35.3%) are still in the transition process and 2 patients (5.9%) were lost to follow up.
Conclusions: Marfan patients in the transition process are already under a chronic disease condition with a high onset of especially cardiovascular pathologies. Although early medical treatment in childhood is effective, the pathologies of the connective tissue require lifelong attention and influence life in many ways. The big challenge during transition is the double change of responsibility from the parents and pediatric doctor to the patient and adult doctor. Consequently, patients in transition process require special attention and close contact with the doctor and the family. A reevaluation by the supervising pediatric Marfan specialist of the successful transition to adult care is indispensable before the pediatric care of Marfan patients is completed.

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