The association between glomus tumors and neurofibromatosis

J Hand Surg Am. 2013 Aug;38(8):1571-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2013.05.025. Epub 2013 Jul 9.


Purpose: To determine whether an epidemiologic association exists between glomus tumors and neurofibromatosis.

Methods: Using a pathology database, we established a study cohort consisting of all patients who had undergone excision of a glomus tumor of the hand between 1995 and 2010. We created a control cohort by randomly selecting 200 patients who had undergone excision of a ganglion cyst over the same period. We reviewed medical records for each cohort to identify patients with a diagnosis of neurofibromatosis. We calculated the odds ratio was calculated and performed Fisher's exact test to determine the significance of the association.

Results: We identified 21 patients with glomus tumors of the hand. Six of these patients carried the diagnosis of neurofibromatosis (29%). In contrast, no patients in the control group carried the diagnosis of neurofibromatosis. The odds ratio for a diagnosis of neurofibromatosis in association with a glomus tumor compared with controls was 168:1.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence of a strong epidemiologic association between glomus tumors and neurofibromatosis. Glomus tumor should be included in the differential diagnosis in neurofibromatosis patients who present with a painful lesion of the hand or finger.

Type of study/level of evidence: Diagnostic III.

Keywords: Glomus tumor; hand tumor; neurofibroma; neurofibromatosis; von Recklinghausen.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Glomus Tumor / diagnosis
  • Glomus Tumor / epidemiology*
  • Glomus Tumor / surgery
  • Hand / pathology*
  • Hand / surgery
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofibromatoses / diagnosis
  • Neurofibromatoses / epidemiology*
  • Neurofibromatoses / surgery
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prognosis
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult