Variability versus heterogeneity in syndromal hypothalamic hamartoblastoma and related disorders: review and delineation of the cerebro-acro-visceral early lethality (CAVE) multiplex syndrome

Am J Med Genet. 1992 Jul 1;43(4):669-77. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320430404.


We report on a case of neonatal hypothalamic hamartoblastoma with holoprosencephaly, Hirschsprung disease, and tetramelic postaxial polydactyly. Twenty-seven previous cases of congenital hypothalamic embryonic tumours with associated congenital defects are reviewed. A classification in isolated, associated, and syndromal forms is proposed. The difficulties encountered in differential diagnosis between the syndromal form (mainly represented by the Pallister-Hall syndrome) and related diseases as Smith-Lemli-Opitz type II, holoprosencephaly-polydactyly, orofaciodigital type VI and hydrolethalus syndromes are outlined. Two pathogenic mechanisms are discussed: a classical pleiotropic model and single sequence model. The latter is sufficient to delineate syndromal hypothalamic hamartoblastoma. With the former, syndromal hypothalamic hamartoblastoma cannot be clearly recognized in the absence of a CNS tumour, a child with syndromal hypothalamic hamartoblastoma cannot be reliably diagnosed as Pallister-Hall rather than another MCA syndrome, and, ultimately, the existence of Pallister-Hall syndrome could be questioned, as it could only be the extreme expression of one or several other syndromes. As this hypothesis cannot be proven or disproven at this point, the authors suggest creating the concept of multiplex phenotype. "Cerebro-Acro-Visceral Early lethality multiplex syndrome" is suggested to encompass all the ambiguous cases. Within this complex, an operative classification key is proposed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnosis*
  • Hamartoma / complications
  • Hamartoma / diagnosis*
  • Hamartoma / pathology
  • Hand Deformities, Congenital / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / complications
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Hypothalamic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Syndrome