Retin Cases Brief Rep. 2016 Spring;10(2):175-82. doi: 10.1097/ICB.0000000000000220.


Purpose: To describe and analyze cases of circumscribed choroidal melanoma initially treated as circumscribed choroidal hemangioma.

Methods: A retrospective case series including five eyes of five patients with choroidal melanoma that were originally diagnosed and treated as choroidal hemangioma.

Results: Four men and 1 woman (26-61 years) were included. All patients were white and presented with nonspecific symptoms (visual field defect, decreased visual acuity, and metamorphopsia) and visual acuity ranging from 20/30 to 20/80. Four of the five tumors were yellow and/or orange and one was partially melanotic. All tumors were dome shaped (one bilobed) and had associated subretinal fluid overlying the lesion. Two tumors had high internal reflectivity on standardized A-scan ultrasonography, whereas others had low internal reflectivity. Three tumors were hypofluorescent on early phases of indocyanine green and intrinsic vasculature was also observed in two of these three. Four of five patients who were initially treated by photodynamic therapy did not respond to treatment. However, they did respond to radiation therapy (after revised diagnosis), with documented regression and no evidence of detectable metastasis (mean follow-up 24.2 months).

Conclusion: Differentiating between amelanotic melanoma and choroidal hemangioma can be challenging. Relying solely on ophthalmoscopic features can be misleading. Ancillary studies such as indocyanine green and standardized A-scan ultrasonography bring clarity in differentiating circumscribed choroidal hemangioma from choroidal melanoma. Although cytology or histopathology is the only definitive method of establishing the diagnosis, careful emphasis on key diagnostic features can obviate the need for diagnostic fine-needle aspiration biopsy in most cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Choroid / pathology*
  • Choroid Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Choroid Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Hemangioma / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity