Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT): a practical guide to management

Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2021 Dec 10;2021(1):469-477. doi: 10.1182/hematology.2021000281.


Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), the second most common inherited bleeding disorder, is associated with the development of malformed blood vessels. Abnormal blood vessels may be small and cutaneous or mucosal (telangiectasia), with frequent complications of bleeding, or large and visceral (arteriovenous malformations [AVMs]), with additional risks that can lead to significant morbidity and even mortality. HHT can present in many different ways and can be difficult to recognize, particularly in younger patients in the absence of a known family history of disease or epistaxis, its most common manifestation. HHT is commonly diagnosed using the established Curaçao clinical criteria, which include (1) family history, (2) recurrent epistaxis, (3) telangiectasia, and (4) visceral AVMs. Fulfillment of 3 or more criteria provides a definite diagnosis of HHT, whereas 2 criteria constitute a possible diagnosis of HHT. However, these criteria are insufficient in children to rule out disease due to the age-dependent development of some of these criteria. Genetic testing, when positive, can provide definitive diagnosis of HHT in all age groups. Clinical course is often complicated by significant epistaxis and/or gastrointestinal bleeding, leading to anemia in half of adult patients with HHT. The management paradigm has recently shifted from surgical approaches to medical treatments aimed at control of chronic bleeding, such as antifibrinolytic and antiangiogenic agents, combined with aggressive iron replacement with intravenous iron. Guidelines for management of HHT, including screening and treatment, were determined by expert consensus and originally published in 2009 with updates and new guidelines in 2020.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia / complications
  • Anemia / diagnosis
  • Anemia / therapy
  • Disease Management
  • Epistaxis / complications
  • Epistaxis / diagnosis
  • Epistaxis / therapy
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / complications
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / therapy
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / complications
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / diagnosis*
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / therapy*