Neuromuscular diseases: Diagnosis and management
Mary P., Servais L., Vialle R.
© 2017 Neuromuscular diseases (NMDs) affect the peripheral nervous system, which includes the motor neurons and sensory neurons; the muscle itself; or the neuromuscular junction. Thus, the term NMDs encompasses a vast array of different syndromes. Some of these syndromes are of direct relevance to paediatric orthopaedic surgeons, either because the presenting manifestation is a functional sign (e.g., toe-walking) or deformity (e.g., pes cavus or scoliosis) suggesting a need for orthopaedic attention or because orthopaedic abnormalities requiring treatment develop during the course of a known NMD. The main NMDs relevant to the orthopaedic surgeon are infantile spinal muscular atrophy (a motor neuron disease), peripheral neuropathies (chiefly, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease), congenital muscular dystrophies, progressive muscular dystrophies, and Steinert myotonic dystrophy (or myotonic dystrophy type 1). Muscle weakness is a symptom shared by all these conditions. The paediatric orthopaedic surgeon must be familiar, not only with the musculoskeletal system, but also with many other domains (particularly respiratory and cardiac function and nutrition) that may interfere with the treatment and require preoperative management. Good knowledge of the natural history of each NMD is essential to ensure optimal timing of the therapeutic interventions, which must be performed under the best possible conditions in these usually frail patients. Timing is particularly crucial for the treatment of spinal deformities due to paraspinal muscle hypotonia during growth: depending on the disease and natural history, the treatment may involve non-operative methods or growing rods, followed by spinal fusion. A multidisciplinary approach is always required. Finally, the survival gains achieved in recent years increasingly require attention to preparing for adult life, to orthopaedic problems requiring treatment before the patient leaves the paediatric environment, and to the transition towards the adult healthcare system.