Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Marfan syndrome can be challenging for doctors to diagnose because many connective tissue disorders have similar signs and symptoms. Even among members of the same family, the signs and symptoms of Marfan syndrome vary widely — both in their features and in their severity.

Certain combinations of symptoms and family history must be present to confirm a diagnosis of Marfan syndrome. In some cases, a person may have some features of Marfan syndrome, but not enough of them to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Heart tests

If your doctor suspects Marfan syndrome, one of the first tests he or she may recommend is an echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to capture real-time images of your heart in motion. It checks the condition of your heart valves and the size of your aorta. Other heart imaging options include computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

If you are diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, you'll need to have regular echocardiograms to monitor the size and condition of your aorta.

Eye tests

Eye exams that may be needed include:

  • Slit-lamp exam. This test checks for lens dislocation, cataracts or a detached retina. Your eyes will need to be completely dilated with drops for this exam.
  • Eye pressure test. To check for glaucoma, your eye doctor may measure the pressure inside your eyeball by touching it with a special tool. Numbing eyedrops are usually used before this test.

Genetic testing

If findings from standard exams for Marfan syndrome aren't clear cut, genetic testing can be helpful. You may also want to talk to a genetic counselor before starting a family, to see what your chances are of passing on Marfan syndrome to your future children.

Feb. 01, 2013