Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a genetic problem that affects the bones. The most common effect is weakened bones that break easily. There are at least 8 types of OI. Some are mild with no obvious signs, while others are more severe.
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OI is caused by a problem in:
The gene that controls the making of collagen—an important element in bones and connective tissues:
- Most common cause of OI
- Most often caused by a random change in the gene; not often associated with a family history
The gene that controls proteins in cartilage:
- Less common cause of OI
- An inherited genetic change from parents; there is often a family history
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. OI may be diagnosed based on your history of fractures or appearance alone.
Your bones may need to be examined. This can be done with:
- Bone mineral density test
- Bone biopsy
Genetic testing may be done. This can help determine the type of OI. Genetic testing can be done through a blood, saliva, or skin biopsy.
If you are pregnant and have a family history of OI your doctor may do:
- Ultrasound —to look for skeletal problems before birth, which will only show in certain types of OI
- Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)—for genetic testing
There is presently no cure for OI. In general, treatment is directed toward:
- Preventing health problems
- Improving independence and mobility
- Developing bone and muscle strength
Some supportive treatment options include:
- Medication called bisphosphonates—to increase bone mineral density
- Physical therapy—for range of motion and muscular strength exercises
- Surgical implant of rods into long bones—to provide strength and prevent or correct deformities
- Monitoring for fractures or scoliosis
- Assistive devices like braces, canes, or wheelchairs—may be needed with certain types of OI
- Dental procedures
Problems related to OI, such as fractures, can be reduced or prevented by a healthy lifestyle. This should include:
- Exercise—swimming is often an ideal and safe activity
- Good nutrition
- Not smoking
- Avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (OI; Brittle Bone Disease)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases http://www.niams.nih.gov
Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation http://www.oif.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.sickkids.ca
Osteogenesis imperfecta. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116818/Osteogenesis-imperfecta . Updated April 19, 2016. Accessed June 16, 2016.
Chevrel G, Meunier PJ. Osteogenesis imperfecta: lifelong management is imperative and feasible. Joint Bone Spine. 2001;68:125-129.
Types of OI. Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation website. Available at: http://www.oif.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AOI%5FTypes. Accessed June 16, 2016.