Diagnosis and treatment of blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome in children

World J Pediatr. 2008 Feb;4(1):70-3. doi: 10.1007/s12519-008-0015-9.


Background: Blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome (BRBNS) is characterized by distinctive vascular malformations of skin and the gastrointestinal tract, often leading to chronic anemia and intestinal bleeding. It usually presents right after birth or during early infancy. Though the disease is inherent, its occurrence is sporadic. Thus it is usually not timely diagnosed. We analyzed the clinical characteristics and treatment of this disorder in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment.

Methods: Three patients with BRBNS treated at our hospital during 2002-2003 and 39 patients from the literature reported during 1965-2003 were reviewed in terms of the diagnosis and treatment. BRBNS may be diagnosed as cutaneous cavernous hemangioma associated with the same lesion of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs.

Results: Our 3 patients suffered from cutaneous angioma and gastrointestinal hemangioma. In 39 patients reported in the literature, cutaneous angioma was observed in all of them, and gastrointestinal hemangioma in 31. Additionally, the lesions were also found in other organs such as the brain (7 patients), joint (2), liver (2), eye (1), kidney (1) and spleen (1). Cutaneous angioma was located on the surface of the skin, including body (93%), limbs (86%), hip (36%) and face (26%). Gastrointestinal hemangioma was more common in the small intestine (100%) than in the colon (74%) and stomach (26%). When the joint was involved by hemangioma, pathologic fracture or overgrowth of bone needed traction and amputation (1 patient respectively). For significant gastrointestinal bleeding, endoscopic techniques (8 patients), surgical excision (5), or both (1) were performed. Recurrent bleeding was successfully treated by endoscopic laser combined with steroid or interferon in one patient.

Conclusions: BRBNS in children presents atypical symptom and systemic complications. It should be dealt with seriously if gastrointestinal bleeding or orthopedic complication occurs. Treatment includes conservative, endoscopic and surgical options. Its recurrence with new angioma in the gastrointestinal tract needs laser-steroid therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnosis
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Hemangioma / complications
  • Hemangioma / diagnosis*
  • Hemangioma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / complications
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Melena / etiology
  • Nevus, Blue
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Syndrome
  • Vascular Malformations / diagnosis*
  • Vascular Malformations / therapy