Clinical Note
August 17, 2009

Kaposiform Hemangioendothelioma of the Tongue in an Adult

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Otolaryngology, George Washington University, Washington, DC (Dr White); Departments of Pathology (Dr Pullman) and Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Pullman and Smith), Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York; and Department of Diagnostic Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, New York (Dr Wenig).


Copyright 2009 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2009

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;135(8):824-826. doi:10.1001/archoto.2009.104

Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (KHE) is a rare vascular tumor that arises during early childhood and has an equal prevalence in males and females. This lesion typically presents as a bluish-red mass in the superficial or deep soft tissue of the extremities, although it may also appear in the abdominal cavity and retroperitoneum.1 More rarely, KHE has been diagnosed in the head and neck, as reported in a series of 14 patients in the English literature.2 All of these patients were diagnosed at 4 years of age or younger. The other important entity that enters the differential diagnosis is the common infantile hemangioma, which eventually involutes spontaneously. Unlike common infantile hemangioma, however, KHE persists and is strongly associated with the Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon (KMP), over 90% of which present as emergencies caused by KHE.3,4 This phenomenon is characterized by a consumptive coagulopathy that can result in severe thrombocytopenia and hemorrhage, which is often life threatening. In predicting the severity of the lesion, 1 case series of 8 KHE lesions indicates that tumors with a diameter smaller than 8 cm will not trap platelets.5 Metastasis is not considered to be part of the natural history of this lesion, although it has been reported to involve regional lymph nodes and to invade local bony structures such as the temporal bone and temporomandibular joint.6 The following is the first case report, to our knowledge, of KHE presenting in a tongue.

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