Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma: atypical features and risks of Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon in 107 referrals

J Pediatr. 2013 Jan;162(1):142-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.06.044. Epub 2012 Aug 4.


Objective: To examine the presentation characteristics of patients with Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (KHE) to describe the spectrum of disease and risk factors for Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon (KMP).

Study design: A retrospective review of 163 patients referred to the Vascular Anomalies Center at Children's Hospital Boston for KHE between 1991 and 2009 identified 107 patients with sufficient data for inclusion.

Results: The prevalence of KHE in Massachusetts is ∼0.91 case per 100000 children. KHE manifested in infancy in 93% of cases, with 60% as neonates. Common presenting features included enlarging cutaneous lesion (75%), thrombocytopenia (56%), and musculoskeletal pain or decreased function (23%). Cutaneous KHE favored the extremities, especially overlying joints. In our cohort, 71% developed KMP (11% after initial presentation), and 11% of patients lacked cutaneous findings. Retroperitoneal and intrathoracic lesions, though less common, were complicated by KMP in 85% and 100% of cases, respectively. Compared with superficial lesions, KHE infiltrating into muscle or deeper was 6.3-fold more likely to manifest KMP and 18-fold higher if retroperitoneal or intrathoracic. KHE limited to bone or presenting after infancy did not manifest KMP.

Conclusion: An enlarging cutaneous lesion is the most common presenting feature of KHE in infancy. Older patients with KHE or those lacking cutaneous manifestations present with musculoskeletal complaints or atypical symptoms. The risk of KMP increases dramatically when tumor infiltrates muscle or when KHE arises in the retroperitoneum or mediastinum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hemangioendothelioma / complications*
  • Hemangioendothelioma / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome / complications
  • Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / complications*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • Kaposiform Hemangioendothelioma