Turner syndrome

Turner syndrome, also referred as 45X, is the most common of sex chromosome abnormalities in females. 

The incidence is estimated at 1:2000-5000 of live births, although the in utero rate is much higher (1-2% of conceptions) due to a significant proportion of fetuses with 45X aborting by the 2nd trimester. 

In adults, it is one of the most important causes of primary amenorrhoea and accounts for approximately one-third of such cases. 


Turner syndrome is classically characterised by the absence of one X chromosome copy (45 XO), with the missing chromosome most frequently (two-thirds) being the paternal one. Most cases occur as a sporadic event.

However, the classic genetic change is not present in all cases. Three main subtypes include:

  • complete monosomy (45XO): ~60% 
    • even though it is relatively common, almost all 45 XO fetuses will spontaneously abort, with 70% lost between 16 weeks and term
  • partial monosomy (structurally altered X chromosome): ~15%
  • mosaicism (XO and another sex karyotype): ~30%

Unlike the common trisomies, there is no association with maternal age.

  • serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP): decreased
  • beta HCG
    • elevated if hydrops present
    • decreased if no hydrops
  • serum inhibin
    • elevated if hydrops present
    • absent if hydrops absent

In utero complications include:

  • development of hydrops fetalis: usually from fluid overload secondary to lymphatic failure
Antenatal ultrasound
Postpartum-to-adulthood features
Pelvic ultrasound

Overall prognosis very variable is dependent on associated anomalies. While the vast majority of fetuses abort in the second trimester, some may have long life expectancy. Cases with mosaicism do much better. Mental development is unaffected.

It is named after Henry Turner who first described the syndrome in 1938.

General differential considerations include:

  • Noonan syndrome: can have similar phenotypical features but normal karyotype
Share Article

Article Information

rID: 2231
Section: Syndromes
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Turner's syndrome
  • Turner syndrome
  • Monosomy X
  • 45X

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

  • Drag
    Case 1: short 4th metacarpal and Madelung deformity
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Turner syndrome
    Case 2: with short 4th metacarpal
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 3
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Short fourth meta...
    Case 4
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 5: antenatal - with cystic hygroma and DWM
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

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

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.