Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
  Users Online: 579 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size  

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 248-250  

Holt–Oram syndrome: Hands are the clue to the diagnosis

Department of Cardiology, Advanced Cardiac Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India

Date of Submission07-Sep-2018
Date of Decision29-Mar-2019
Date of Acceptance17-Aug-2019
Date of Web Publication11-Oct-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sourabh Agstam
Senior Resident, Department of Cardiology, Advanced Cardiac Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijabmr.IJABMR_298_18

Rights and Permissions

Holt–Oram syndrome or heart–hand syndrome consists of phenotypic and genotypic abnormalities. It is characterized by abnormalities of upper limbs and congenital cardiac defects. It is an autosomal dominant disorder due to a mutation in TBX5 gene located on chromosome 12, but sporadic cases have also been reported. We describe a 26-year-old female with a history of shortness of breath for 5 years. She had bilateral hand deformities, and on evaluation, found to have ostium secundum atrial septal defect which is common cardiac defect in Holt–Oram syndrome.

Keywords: Atrial septal defect, Holt–Oram syndrome, TBX5 gene

How to cite this article:
Kumar B, Agstam S. Holt–Oram syndrome: Hands are the clue to the diagnosis. Int J App Basic Med Res 2019;9:248-50

How to cite this URL:
Kumar B, Agstam S. Holt–Oram syndrome: Hands are the clue to the diagnosis. Int J App Basic Med Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Oct 22];9:248-50. Available from: https://www.ijabmr.org/text.asp?2019/9/4/248/268940

   Introduction Top

Holt–Oram syndrome is characterized by morphological abnormalities of upper limbs and cardiac defects. The name was given by Dr. Mary Holt and Dr. Samuel Oram in 1960 in a four-generation family with atrial septal defects (ASDs) and thumb abnormalities.[1],[2] Our patient had bilateral hand deformities along with congenital cardiac defect. Similar hand deformities were present in her child with no cardiac defects.

   Case Report Top

We present a case of a 26-year-old female born through nonconsanguineous marriage belonging to lower socioeconomic status, with having bony defects of both upper limbs since birth. She had polydactyly (five fingers) with absent thumb [Figure 1]. She complained of having dyspnea on exertion class II for 5 years and was evaluated in multiple primary care hospital and subsequently referred to a tertiary care center. There was no history of congestive cardiac failure, angina on exertion, pedal edema, and paradoxical embolism. Clinical examination was suggestive of loud S1, wide, and fixed split-second heart sound and ejection systolic murmur of grade 3/6 at pulmonary area. The electrocardiogram [Figure 2] showed normal sinus rhythm, first-degree atrioventricular (AV) block with PR of 240 ms, incomplete right bundle branch block, and diffuse reperfusion abnormalities. Chest X-ray [Figure 3] showed cardiomegaly, prominence of the main pulmonary artery, and increased pulmonary vascularity. The transthoracic echocardiogram in the parasternal long-axis view [[Video 1] - Link available in the online version] and apical four-chamber view [Figure 4] showed dilated right atrium, right ventricle, and 13 mm caudally shifted ostium secundum (OS-ASD) with left to right shunt. She was advised for surgical closure of ASD, but due to financial constraints, surgery could not be done. She was on medical management and is doing well in follow-up at 2-year follow-up.
Figure 1: Polydactyly (five fingers) with absent thumb

Click here to view
Figure 2: The electrocardiogram showed normal sinus rhythm, first-degree atrioventricular block with PR of 240 ms, incomplete right bundle branch block, and diffuse repolarization abnormalities

Click here to view
Figure 3: Chest X-ray showed cardiomegaly, prominence of the main pulmonary artery, and increased pulmonary vascularity

Click here to view
Figure 4: Two-dimensional echocardiography (apical four-chamber view with color compare) showing 12.1 mm ostium secundum atrial septal defect with left to right shunt

Click here to view

On family screening, all family members were normal except her child who had similar hand deformities. Echocardiography was done which did not reveal any cardiac defect. She was explained about her disease and risk of transmission of congenital heart disease in further pregnancy.

   Discussion Top

Holt–Oram syndrome, also called as atriodigital dysplasia, is a rare autosomal dominant syndrome with a prevalence of 1/100,000 in the Western population.[3],[4],[5] Most of the patients had a genetic inheritance; sometimes, sporadic cases were also reported in the literature.[6],[7] There is phenotypic and genetic variation in patients of Holt–Oram syndrome as some patients present with mild hand deformities only and remain asymptomatic throughout their life. TBX5 gene mutation is seen in 74% of clinically detected cases.[8] TBX5 is a T-box containing transcription factor involved in forearm and heart development. Genetic analysis showed nonsense mutations, deletions, rearrangements, and missense mutations in the TBX5 gene. Different mutations lead to variable expression of a gene which lead to phenotypic malformation.[4]

The characteristic malformation in the upper limb is the absent, underdeveloped, or triphalangeal thumb. There are malformations of the metacarpals, hypoplastic or absent radii, ulna, or humerus. Malformations can be unilateral or bilateral and symmetric or asymmetric. Embryologically, it is due to defective development of embryonic radial axis that results in variable deformities in the upper limb.[1] The scapulae may be absent and hypoplasia of the glenoid cavity. Upper limb abnormalities are always present, and the presence of lower limb abnormalities excludes the diagnosis.[3]

The various cardiac defects associated with Holt–Oram syndrome are ASDs, ventricle septal defects (VSDs), patent ductus arteriosus, endocardial cushion defects, hypoplasia of left ventricle, and pulmonary stenosis.[1] Common cardiac defects are OS-ASD and VSDs.[1],[6] Conduction disturbances sometimes associated with Holt–Oram syndrome such as first-degree AV block, sinus bradycardia, wandering pacemaker, and atrial fibrillation.[9],[10],[11]

   Conclusion Top

Hand deformities sometimes give us a diagnosis of congenital heart disease. Even in sporadic cases of Holt–Oram syndrome, screening of siblings should be done by echocardiography as these patients have more chances of transmission of congenital heart disease to siblings when compared with the normal population.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Holt M, Oram S. Familial heart disease with skeletal malformations. Br Heart J 1960;22:236-42.  Back to cited text no. 1
Frota Filho JD, Pereira W, Leiria TL, Vallenas M, Leães PE, Blacher C, et al. Holt-Oram syndrome revisited. Two patients in the same family. Arq Bras Cardiol 1999;73:429-34.  Back to cited text no. 2
Basson CT, Cowley GS, Solomon SD, Weissman B, Poznanski AK, Traill TA, et al. The clinical and genetic spectrum of the Holt-Oram syndrome (heart-hand syndrome) N. Engl J Med 1994;330:885-91.  Back to cited text no. 3
Basson CT, Huang T, Lin RC, Bachinsky DR, Weremowicz S, Vaglio A, et al. Different TBX5 interactions in heart and limb defined by Holt-Oram syndrome mutations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1999;96:2919-24.  Back to cited text no. 4
Huang T. Current advances in Holt-Oram syndrome. Curr Opin Pediatr 2002;14:691-5.  Back to cited text no. 5
Sinha R, Nema C. Rare cardiac defect in Holt-Oram syndrome. Cardiovasc J Afr 2012;23:e3-4.  Back to cited text no. 6
Nourzad G, Baghershiroodi M. A case report on Holt-Oram syndrome (heart-hand). ARYA Atheroscler 2011;7:87-92.  Back to cited text no. 7
McDermott DA, Bressan MC, He J, Lee JS, Aftimos S, Brueckner M, et al. TBX5 genetic testing validates strict clinical criteria for Holt-Oram syndrome. Pediatr Res 2005;58:981-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
Poznanski AK, Gall JC Jr., Stern AM. Skeletal manifestations of the Holt-Oram syndrome. Radiology 1970;94:45-53.  Back to cited text no. 9
Smith AT, Sack GH Jr., Taylor GJ. Holt-Oram syndrome. J Pediatr 1979;95:538-43.  Back to cited text no. 10
Cerbai E, Sartiani L. Holt-Oram syndrome and atrial fibrillation: Opening the (T)-box. Circ Res 2008;102:1304-6.  Back to cited text no. 11


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

This article has been cited by
1 Clinical and epidemiological features of heart-hand syndrome, an updated analysis in China
Yaobin Yin,Jianguang Ji,Junhui Zhao,Shanlin Chen,Wen Tian
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2020; 21(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded202    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal