Klinefelter syndrome

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 5 Jul 2019

Klinefelter syndrome (KS) is a sex chromosomal anomaly, which in most cases is characterized by 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.

The estimated incidence is 0.15-0.2% of live births.

  • the testes are normal prior to puberty and small in post pubertal testes; there is absent spermatogenesis
  • the kidneys may be symmetrically enlarged with small 1-8 mm cysts
  • post pubertal gynecomastia
  • sparse facial and axillary hair
  • clinodactyly
  • tall stature
  • narrow shoulders
  • broad hips
  • normal to moderately reduced Leydig cell function
  • increased secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone
  • androgen deficiency
  • normal to slightly decreased verbal intelligence
  • ~80% have 47XXY 
  • ~10% have mosaic 46XY/47XXY
  • ~10% have 48XXYY and other less frequent types

These abnormal divisions occur as sporadic events and are not hereditary.

Klinefelter syndrome should be suspected in postpubertal males with bilateral symmetrical small testicular volume (usually 3~4 mL in volume) with ultrasonography, usually presented by subfertility/primary infertility or assessment of small testicular size and karyotyping should be recommended 7. However, Klinefelter syndrome is often overlooked or untreated.

Early recognition and hormonal treatment can improve quality of life and prevent serious complications. Testosterone replacement is mainly for androgen deficiency but does not improve infertility 7

It is named after Harry Klinefelter (1912-1990) 8 who first described the syndrome in 1942.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.