What are histologic findings in the diagnosis for infantile hemangiomas?

Updated: Nov 09, 2020
  • Author: Richard J Antaya, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Routine histopathology varies according to the stage of the hemangioma. In early proliferation, hemangiomas are characterized by nonencapsulated masses and dense cords of mitotically active, plump endothelial cells in close association with pericytes. Few, small caliber lumina are present. Special stains reveal well-developed basement membranes around primitive vessels. Mast cells are present in varying numbers in all stages. As the hemangioma proliferates, the vascular lumina enlarge. An increase of apoptotic endothelial cells and a decrease in plump, mitotically active endothelial cells herald the involution phase.

As involution progresses, the endothelial cells continue to mature and assume a flatter appearance. The vascular lumina continue to enlarge until few, mature ectatic vessels remain. [61] The proliferating endothelial cell mass may be replaced with fibrofatty tissue. Varying degrees of epidermal atrophy, scar tissue, and loss of elastic tissue can be seen in late involuting lesions. [62]

Specimens may be evaluated for tissue-specific immunohistochemical markers such as GLUT-1, merosin, Fc-gamma-RII, and Lewis Y antigens. These markers may aid in differentiating infantile hemangiomas (positive staining for all) from other vascular neoplasms or malformations, such as the congenital hemangiomas (eg, rapidly involuting congenital hemangioma, noninvoluting congenital hemangioma, partially involuting congenital hemangioma), kaposiform hemangioendothelioma, tufted angioma, or pyogenic granuloma, none of which stains positively for these antigens. These markers are coexpressed by infantile hemangiomas, erythrocyte cell membranes, and placental microvessels. [60]

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