Diagnosis and management of familial Mediterranean fever: integrating medical genetics in a dedicated interdisciplinary clinic.
Familial Mediterranean fever is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder characterized by recurrent febrile polyserositis, especially prevalent in individuals of Mediterranean descent. Familial Mediterranean fever can have nonspecific manifestations that mimic many common acquired disorders such as infections, acute appendicitis, cholecystitis, and arthritis, which can delay diagnosis for many years and subject patients to extensive evaluations and even unnecessary surgery. Untreated familial Mediterranean fever can result in serious complications such as end-stage renal disease and malabsorption secondary to amyloid deposition in the kidneys and digestive tract, male and female infertility, and growth retardation in children. These significant sequelae, along with the episodic acute attacks, are readily preventable by treatment with oral colchicine and underscore the necessity of early detection and treatment from a medical, psychosocial, and economic standpoint. We describe our comprehensive approach to the accurate diagnosis and effective management of this disorder by means of a dedicated familial Mediterranean fever clinic that incorporates medical genetics on equal footing with general medicine. In addition to providing the clinician with the presenting features of familial Mediterranean fever, methods of diagnosis including molecular testing, and current management based on our extensive experience with hundreds of affected individuals, we also advance this approach as a model for the incorporation of medical genetics practice into the more traditional domains of general medicine.
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