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Disease Profile

Pfeiffer syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.

Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

ACS5; Pfeiffer type acrocephalosyndactyly; Acrocephalosyndactyly, type 5;


Congenital and Genetic Diseases


Pfeiffer syndrome is a disorder that affects the development of the bones in the skull, hands and feet. Signs and symptoms can include craniosynostosis, which prevents normal skull growth and affects the shape of the head and face; distinctive facial features including bulging and wide-set eyes, a high forehead, an underdeveloped upper jaw, and a beaked nose; hearing loss; and dental problems. Other features may include broad and deviated thumbs and great toes; brachydactyly; and syndactyly. It is caused by mutations in the FGFR1 or FGFR2 genes and is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Pfeiffer syndrome is divided into 3 subtypes (type 1, type 2 and type 3) based on the presence and severity of specific features.[1] Management typically includes various surgical interventions.[2]


The presence and severity of features of Pfeiffer syndrome may differ depending on the type of Pfeiffer syndrome a person has. Type I is considered mild compared to types II and III.

In Pfeiffer syndrome type I, infants have craniosynostosis that causes the head to appear vertically elongated. Distinctive facial features may include a high, full forehead; underdeveloped mid-facial regions (midface hypoplasia); widely spaced eyes (ocular hypertelorism); an underdeveloped upper jaw (hypoplastic maxilla) with a prominent lower jaw; and dental abnormalities. People with type I usually have normal intelligence and a good prognosis with a normal life span.

In Pfeiffer syndrome type II, people typically have more severe craniosynostosis, more severe hand and foot abnormalities, and additional malformations of the limbs. Infants with type II have a form of craniosynostosis that causes the skull to have a "tri-lobed" appearance (called a "cloverleaf skull" deformity). This is often associated with hydrocephalus, which causes increased pressure on the brain. Distinctive facial features may include an abnormally high, broad forehead; severe protrusion of the eyes (ocular proptosis); midface hypoplasia; a "beak-shaped" nose; and low-set ears. Infants may also have lack of mobility of the elbow joints and/or various abnormalities in some of the internal organs (visceral anomalies). Infants with type II often have intellectual disabilities and neurological problems due to severe brain involvement. The physical abnormalities associated with type II can lead to life-threatening complications without appropriate treatment.

Pfeiffer syndrome type III is very similar to type II, but people with type II do not have the cloverleaf skull deformity. The features associated with type III may include a shortened base of the skull ; the abnormal presence of teeth at birth (natal teeth); ocular proptosis; and/or various visceral anomalies. As in type II, people with type III often have intellectual disabilities and severe neurological problems.[3]

This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Broad thumb
Broad thumbs
Wide/broad thumb

[ more ]

Hypoplasia of the zygomatic bone
Cheekbone underdevelopment
Decreased size of cheekbone
Underdevelopment of cheekbone

[ more ]

Drooping upper eyelid
30%-79% of people have these symptoms
Short fingers or toes
Clinodactyly of the 5th finger
Permanent curving of the pinkie finger
Finger syndactyly
High forehead
Wide-set eyes
Widely spaced eyes

[ more ]

Symphalangism affecting the phalanges of the hand
Fused finger bones of the hand
Tall shaped skull
Tower skull shape

[ more ]

Wide nasal bridge
Broad nasal bridge
Broad nasal root
Broadened nasal bridge
Increased breadth of bridge of nose
Increased breadth of nasal bridge
Increased width of bridge of nose
Increased width of nasal bridge
Nasal bridge broad
Wide bridge of nose
Widened nasal bridge

[ more ]

5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Cloverleaf skull
Facial asymmetry
Asymmetry of face
Crooked face
Unsymmetrical face

[ more ]

Flat face
Flat facial shape
High palate
Elevated palate
Increased palatal height

[ more ]

Hip dysplasia
Prominent swayback
Mandibular prognathia
Big lower jaw
Increased projection of lower jaw
Increased size of lower jaw
Large lower jaw
Prominent chin
Prominent lower jaw

[ more ]

Open mouth
Gaped jawed appearance
Gaped mouthed appearance
Slack jawed appearance

[ more ]

Short neck
Decreased length of neck
Short philtrum
Short stature
Decreased body height
Small stature

[ more ]

Synostosis of carpal bones
Fusion of wrist bones
Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Arnold-Chiari malformation
Autosomal dominant inheritance
High, prominent forehead
Broad hallux
Broad big toe
Wide big toe

[ more ]

Cartilaginous trachea
Choanal atresia
Blockage of the rear opening of the nasal cavity
Obstruction of the rear opening of the nasal cavity

[ more ]

Choanal stenosis
Narrowing of the rear opening of the nasal cavity
Coronal craniosynostosis
Dental crowding
Crowded teeth
Dental overcrowding
Overcrowding of teeth

[ more ]

Depressed nasal bridge
Depressed bridge of nose
Flat bridge of nose
Flat nasal bridge
Flat, nasal bridge
Flattened nasal bridge
Low nasal bridge
Low nasal root

[ more ]

Downslanted palpebral fissures
Downward slanting of the opening between the eyelids
Elbow ankylosis
Humeroradial synostosis
Fusion of upper and lower arm bones
Too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain
Hypoplasia of the maxilla
Decreased size of maxilla
Decreased size of upper jaw
Maxillary deficiency
Maxillary retrusion
Small maxilla
Small upper jaw
Small upper jaw bones
Upper jaw deficiency
Upper jaw retrusion

[ more ]

Intellectual disability
Mental deficiency
Mental retardation
Mental retardation, nonspecific

[ more ]

Shallow orbits
Decreased depth of eye sockets
Shallow eye sockets

[ more ]

Short middle phalanx of toe
Short middle bones (feet)
Short nose
Decreased length of nose
Shortened nose

[ more ]

Shortening of all middle phalanges of the fingers
Squint eyes

[ more ]



Making a diagnosis for a genetic or rare disease can often be challenging. Healthcare professionals typically look at a person’s medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and laboratory test results in order to make a diagnosis. The following resources provide information relating to diagnosis and testing for this condition. If you have questions about getting a diagnosis, you should contact a healthcare professional.

Testing Resources

  • The Genetic Testing Registry (GTR) provides information about the genetic tests for this condition. The intended audience for the GTR is health care providers and researchers. Patients and consumers with specific questions about a genetic test should contact a health care provider or a genetics professional.


    The resources below provide information about treatment options for this condition. If you have questions about which treatment is right for you, talk to your healthcare professional.

    Management Guidelines

    • Project OrphanAnesthesia is a project whose aim is to create peer-reviewed, readily accessible guidelines for patients with rare diseases and for the anesthesiologists caring for them. The project is a collaborative effort of the German Society of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Orphanet, the European Society of Pediatric Anesthesia, anesthetists and rare disease experts with the aim to contribute to patient safety.


      Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

      Organizations Supporting this Disease

        Learn more

        These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

        Where to Start

        • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Pfeiffer syndrome. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
        • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

          In-Depth Information

          • GeneReviews provides current, expert-authored, peer-reviewed, full-text articles describing the application of genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of patients with specific inherited conditions.
          • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
          • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
          • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
          • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Pfeiffer syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


            1. Pfeiffer syndrome. Genetics Home Reference. February 2008; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/pfeiffer-syndrome. Accessed 7/25/2014.
            2. Nathaniel H Robin, Marni J Falk, Chad R Haldeman-Englert. FGFR-Related Craniosynostosis Syndromes. GeneReviews. June 7, 2011; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1455/.
            3. Robin NH. Pfeiffer syndrome. NORD. 2012; https://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/502/viewAbstract. Accessed 7/25/2014.

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