Purpose: Fetal arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) describes a heterogeneous disease entity characterized by multiple contractures affecting at least two different body areas. The aim of our study was to identify additional sonographic abnormalities in fetuses with AMC Type I-III associated with an unfavorable prognosis and to describe when those signs were first detected.
Methods: This retrospective study included 41 pregnancies of suspected AMC diagnosed 1999-2017 at our tertiary referral center. The affected pregnancies were divided into the 3 AMC subgroups; the time of detection and outcome were analyzed. Prenatal sonograms, pediatric charts, genetic tests, and autopsy reports were studied.
Results: Pregnancy outcome data were verifiable in 34 out of 41 cases; in 27 cases, AMC was confirmed. Hydrops was present in 50% of postnatally deceased fetuses, 53% of cases resulting in termination of pregnancy vs. 0% of the surviving 8 children. Absent stomach filling was found in 67% of the children with neonatal death. After subcategorization, the limb-involvement-only-group, 8% showed hydrops vs. 100% in system anomaly group vs. 70% in neuromuscular dysfunction cohort (p = 0.001). Scoliosis, nuchal edema, and absent stomach filling were significantly indicating for a neurological etiology.
Conclusion: In addition to disease-defining sonographic findings, those with prognostic significance were identified. Hydrops, nuchal edema, scoliosis and absent stomach filling were associated with unfavorable outcomes implicating a neuromuscular etiology. This knowledge can help to predict the further course of the disease and support patient counseling.