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Tuberous sclerosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Feb 21, 2024

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Causes Of Tuberous sclerosis

Symptoms Of Tuberous sclerosis

Risk factors Of Tuberous sclerosis

Diagnosis Of Tuberous Sclerosis

Evaluation of seizures

Heart Examination

Examine your eyes

Examination of teeth

Examination of mental health or development

Genetic analysis

Treatment Of Tuberous sclerosis

Continuous observation

Complications Of Tuberous Sclerosis

Tuberous sclerosis

Tuberous sclerosis, sometimes called tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), is an uncommon hereditary illness that causes tumours to grow all over the body. These are not tumours with malignancy. Noncancerous tumours also go by the term "benign tumours," which are abnormal growths of tissue or cells. The location and size of the growths will determine how the symptoms manifest.

Early childhood or infancy is often the time when tuberous sclerosis first manifests. The symptoms of tuberous sclerosis can occasionally be so mild that a diagnosis is not made until much later in life, if at all. Sometimes tuberous sclerosis causes serious impairment.

There is now no recognised treatment for tuberous sclerosis, and it is impossible to predict when the illness may become more severe. But there are methods for manage symptoms.


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Causes Of Tuberous sclerosis

The hereditary disease known as tuberous sclerosis is caused by genetic changes in either the TSC1 or TSC2 gene, often known as mutations. These genes are thought to prevent cells from multiplying excessively quickly or uncontrolled. Mutations in either of these genes may cause cells to proliferate and divide more than is necessary. The body experiences several growths as a result of this. It is believed that these tumours are benign.

Also Read: Cephalohematoma: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Symptoms Of Tuberous sclerosis

Any part of the body, though, could experience this. Depending on the size and location of the growth, the symptoms may vary in intensity. While the symptoms of tuberous sclerosis vary from person to person, the following are some prevalent ones:

  • Skin changes: Skin changes are the most common ones. These include patches of skin that are lighter in colour as well as smaller, thicker, smoother, or bumpier areas of skin. Elevated, discoloured skin patches on the forehead are possible. Small, soft lumps beneath or surrounding the nails may be present. 
  • Seizure: Brain growths may cause seizures. Most often, a seizure is the first indication of tuberous sclerosis. A typical kind of seizure that affects small newborns is called an infantile spasm, which is defined by the head and back arching arm and leg rigidity, and other movements.
  • Cognitive, logical, and learning difficulties: One possible outcome of tuberous sclerosis is developmental delay. Reasoning, thinking, and learning may become more challenging at times. Additional possible conditions include mental health disorders including autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Behavioural problems: Typical behavioural problems include hyperactivity, aggression, self-harm, and difficulty adjusting to social and emotional situations.
  • Renal-related problems: Renal tumours are common, and they may proliferate as a person ages.
  • Cardiac issues: If any cardiac growths exist, they usually start off small at birth and go smaller as the kid gets older.
  • Breathing problems: Coughing or breathing problems may result from lung growth, especially during intense activity or exercise. These lung tumours are more common in women than in men.
  • Problems with vision: Growths may appear as white spots on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. These growths typically don't impair vision.
  • Dental changes: Teeth may develop pits on their surface. Tiny growths may appear on the tongue, within the cheeks, or on the gums.

Also Read: Temporal Lobe Seizures: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications


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Risk factors Of Tuberous sclerosis

Tuberous sclerosis can result from one of two factors:

  • A mutation in cell division: Approximately two-thirds of patients with tuberous sclerosis have a new mutation in the TSC1 or TSC2 gene. The majority of people have never had tuberous sclerosis.
  • A family-inherited mutation in the gene: One-third of individuals with tuberous sclerosis inherit a mutated TSC1 or TSC2 gene from a parent who also has the condition.
  • Children who are connected to you by blood may acquire that gene if you have tuberous sclerosis, as you have up to a 50% risk of transferring the altered gene and the disorder to your biological offspring. The severity of the disorder can vary. A kid of a parent with tuberous sclerosis may have the disease in a milder or more severe form.

Also Read: Atypical Hyperplasia Of Breast: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Diagnosis Of Tuberous Sclerosis

Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you or your child may need to see specialists about multiple tuberous sclerosis. Among them may be experts in matters concerning the kidneys (nephrologist), eyes (ophthalmologist), skin (dermatologist), heart (cardiologist), and brain (neurologist). Additional specialists could be added if needed.

The medical practitioner usually examines you physically and talks with you about your symptoms and family history. The medical professional looks for growths also referred to as noncancerous tumours, that are typically caused by tuberous sclerosis. To identify associated conditions and make the diagnosis of tuberous sclerosis, the doctor may also conduct several tests, including blood and genetic testing.

Also Read: Throat Cancer: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Evaluation of seizures

An electroencephalogram, also known as an EEG (eh-lek-tro-en-SEF-uh-lo-gram), will probably be part of the diagnostic testing. This test can assist in identifying the cause of seizures by recording electrical activity in the brain.

Examination of the liver, kidneys, lungs, and brain,Tests that can be performed to find bodily growths include:

  • MRI: This test creates finely detailed pictures of the brain or other bodily parts using radio waves and a magnetic field.
  • CT scan: This X-ray method produces cross-sectional and occasionally three-dimensional images of the brain or other bodily components.
  • Ultrasound: This test, also known as sonography, creates images of certain body parts, including the liver, heart, and kidneys, using high-frequency sound waves.

Heart Examination

Tests often involve the following to see if the heart is affected:

  • Echocardiography: This test generates images of the heart using sound waves.
  • ECG: This test, which is also known as an ECG or EKG, records the electrical activity of the heart.

Examine your eyes

The retina and other internal components of the eye are examined using a light source and magnifying glass.

Examination of teeth

Examining the teeth and oral cavity is part of this procedure. X-rays of the jaws and teeth will probably be part of it.

Examination of mental health or development

An evaluation by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health specialist, if indicated by screening, can assist in identifying developmental delays, limitations in a child's capacity to learn and function, issues related to education or socialisation, or behavioural or emotional disorders.

Genetic analysis

Testing for genetics helps validate the tuberous sclerosis diagnosis. Should a kid be diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis in the absence of a family history of the disorder, both parents might wish to think about undergoing genetic testing for the same ailment. Genetic counselling can assist parents in understanding their other children's and their children's future risk of tuberous sclerosis.

Before reaching childbearing age, people with tuberous sclerosis may want to think about genetic counselling to learn more about their chance of inheriting the illness and their opinions.

Also Read: Esthesioneuroblastoma: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Treatment Of Tuberous sclerosis

While there isn't a cure for tuberous sclerosis, certain symptoms can be managed with medication. For instance:

  • Medicine: It is possible to prescribe anti-seizure medications to manage seizures. Different medications might aid in the treatment of behavioural issues, irregular heartbeats, or other symptoms. Certain kinds of kidney and brain growths that are not amenable to surgical excision may be treated with a medication known as everolimus (Afinitor, Zortress). Early use of these medications may help lower the chance of seizures. Treatment options for acne-like skin growths include the topical ointment version of sirolimus (Hyftor).
  • Operation: A growth may need to be surgically removed if it interferes with the operation of a particular organ, such as the kidney, brain, or heart. 
  • Surgery: Surgery can occasionally be performed to treat seizures brought on by brain tumours that are resistant to medication. Skin growths may appear better after surgical techniques like dermabrasion or laser treatment.
  • Counselling: Early intervention programmes like physical, occupational, or speech therapy could be beneficial. Children with tuberous sclerosis who require extra assistance in these areas can benefit from these interventions. Children's capacity to organise everyday activities and chores might be enhanced by the therapies.
  • Services related to education and employment: Children with behavioural problems and developmental disabilities can benefit from early intervention and special needs services to help them adjust to school. They can achieve their greatest potential as a result. Social, vocational, and rehabilitation assistance can last a lifetime if necessary.
  • Behaviour problems and mental health: Speaking with a mental health professional can assist individuals in accepting and adjusting to having tuberous sclerosis. A mental health professional can also offer resources and assistance with behavioural, social, or emotional problems.

Continuous observation

Because many symptoms of tuberous sclerosis might take years to manifest, it is a lifelong condition that needs to be carefully monitored and followed up on. Tests like those performed during diagnosis may be part of a routine schedule of check-ups with your healthcare practitioner. Early problem detection and management can help avoid difficulties.

Also Read: Radiation Enteritis: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Complications Of Tuberous Sclerosis

The noncancerous tumours may grow to a large size and produce serious or even fatal problems. Listed below are a few illustrations

  • An excessive amount of fluid in and around the brain: Subependymal giant cell astrocytoma is one form of noncancerous brain tumour that can spread along the membrane surrounding the brain's ventricles, which are fluid-filled cavities. Fluid may accumulate around the brain as a result of the tumour obstructing the flow of fluid that shields it. We refer to this accumulation as hydrocephalus. An unusually big head, nausea, migraines, and behavioural abnormalities are some of the symptoms.
  • Complications with the heart: Heart growths, which typically occur in newborns, might obstruct blood flow or lead to cardiac rhythm issues.
  • Damage to the kidneys: Serious and even fatal renal disorders can arise from large kidney growths. Renal failure, high blood pressure, and bleeding can all be caused by renal growths. Cancer can occasionally arise from kidney growths.
  • Respiratory failure: Lung growths can damage lung tissue, which can lead to lung collapse. The growths make it more difficult for the lungs to sufficiently oxygenate the body's other organs.
  • Increased risk of cancerous growths: There is a link between tuberculosis and an increased risk of kidney and brain cancer.
  • Vision damage: Growths in the eye can obstruct too much of the retina, which is rare but can result in vision issues.

Also Read: Musculoskeletal Radiology: Bone Tumors

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