Orthopedic considerations in Gaucher disease since the advent of enzyme replacement therapy
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Gaucher disease, the most prevalent lysosomal storage disorder, is characterized by hepatosplenomegaly, hypersplenism, and rarely, neurological involvement. The most variable symptoms relate to skeletal disease, and both onset and progression are difficult to predict on the basis of genotype. This review describes findings from a large referral clinic (> 500 patients) and from the literature in the decade since the advent of specific enzyme replacement therapy. Such therapy is effective in reducing visceral and hematological involvement, but its greatest advantage as regards the skeleton is prevention of irreversible damage. Avascular necrosis of the joints-particularly the hips but also the knees and shoulders-and pathological fractures of the long bones including the ribs, as well as episodic "crises' of bone pain in children and young adults, are common manifestations. Various imaging modalities should be performed at baseline for life-long monitoring, and then as required because of specific complaints. Surgical interventions such as joint arthroplasties are important adjuvant treatments in this population; presurgical hematological profiling plus antibiotic cover and postoperative pain control are equally critical. Opportunities for orthopedic consultations with senior surgeons are not abused by our patients. These reflect disease-related morbidity, with greater numbers of requests being made by patients requiring enzyme therapy, who by definition have more severe disease characteristics.
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