Background: Large facial hemangiomas can have associated central nervous system malformations, particularly the Dandy-Walker posterior fossa malformations. Abnormal arteries, especially those of the central nervous system, coarctation of the aorta, cardiac defects, and unusual ophthalmologic abnormalities can also occur.
Observations: We describe two patients with large facial hemangioma, congenital cataracts, and structural arterial abnormalities, particularly of the central nervous system vasculature. One of these infants also had a Dandy-Walker malformation detected on prenatal ultrasound at 12 weeks' gestation, suggesting that this syndrome had its origin during the first trimester of pregnancy. This infant also had a lingual thyroid and developed symptomatic hypothyroidism, possible induced by interferon alfa therapy of her hemangioma. These cases are discussed, along with 41 previously reported cases with similar findings.
Conclusions: Large facial hemangiomas may have a distinctive group of associated arterial, central nervous system, and ophthalmologic anomalies. We propose the acronym PHACE syndrome to emphasize the characteristic findings of this neurocutaneous syndrome: posterior fossa malformations, hemangiomas, arterial anomalies, coarctation of the aorta and cardiac defects, and eye abnormalities.