Enlarged vestibular aqueduct: a radiological marker of Pendred syndrome, and mutation of the PDS gene.
Although the textbook view of Pendred syndrome is that of an autosomal recessive condition characterized by deafness and goitre, it is increasingly clear that not all such patients present this classical clinical picture. Malformations of the inner ear, specifically enlargement of the vestibular aqueduct, are common in Pendred syndrome and mutations in the PDS (Pendred Syndrome) gene have been recorded in patients presenting with deafness and vestibular aqueduct dilatation only, without other features of Pendred syndrome. Since this is the most common radiological malformation of the cochlea in deaf patients, we investigated what proportion of such cases were due to mutation of the PDS gene. We assessed 57 patients referred with radiological evidence of vestibular aqueduct enlargement, by history, clinical examination, perchlorate discharge test and molecular analysis of the PDS locus. Forty-one patients (72%) had unequivocal evidence of Pendred syndrome. The finding of a single heterozygous mutation at the PDS gene in a further eight was strongly suggestive of a critical role for pendrin, the protein product of the PDS gene, in the generation of enlarged vestibular aqueducts in at least 86% (49/57 cases) of patients with this radiological malformation. Securing the diagnosis of Pendred syndrome may be difficult, especially in the single case. Goitre is an inconstant finding, and the perchlorate discharge test, although helpful, is of diagnostic value only if abnormal. Enlargement of the vestibular aqueduct should be considered as the most likely presentation of Pendred syndrome and should prompt specific investigation of that diagnostic possibility. Pendred syndrome might henceforth be recharacterized as deafness with enlargement of the vestibular aqueduct, which is sometimes associated with goitre.