Retiform hemangioendothelioma: a case series and review of the literature

J Med Case Rep. 2021 Feb 17;15(1):69. doi: 10.1186/s13256-021-02671-2.


Background: Retiform Hemangioendothelioma (RH) is an extremely rare vascular tumor of intermediate biological behavior, which is prone to local recurrence but rarely shows metastasis to distant sites. It may harbor areas resembling Dabska tumor in some cases and angiosarcoma, which in its well differentiated form may exhibit similar pathological appearance in some areas, making it problematic to rule out a possibility of a malignant diagnosis on a core biopsy. Therefore, complete surgical resection with negative margins is essential for accurate diagnosis and local control.

Results: In our series, two of the three Pakistani cases were in females, with an age range between 18 and 50 years. Our first patient presented with symptoms of cardiac compromise and pulmonary hypertension. Her computed tomography scan showed multiple tumor masses within the mediastinum. The second patient presented with an ulcerated lesion on his scalp, at right temple. The third patient presented with a hard growth on her left 4th toe which was amputated. Histologically, all cases exhibited retiform arborizing vascular spaces lined by bland endothelial cells with hobnail nuclei, characteristic of retiform hemangioendothelioma. Immunohistochemical markers CD31, CD34 and ERG confirmed the vascular nature of the tumor. The first and the second patient are alive and healthy at 4 and 7 months follow up respectively, while the third patient is lost to follow up.

Conclusion: Owing to the rate of local recurrence, RH should always be considered in the differential diagnosis of vascular tumors showing arborizing blood vessels, as it may have an atypical presentation and it should be carefully differentiated from Dabska tumor and an angiosarcoma.

Keywords: Angiosarcoma; Dabska tumor; Hemangioendothelioma; Hobnail; Retiform.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hemangioendothelioma / diagnosis*
  • Hemangioendothelioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / pathology
  • Scalp*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Toes