Maffucci Syndrome

Updated: Oct 04, 2016
  • Author: Raymond T Kuwahara, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Enchondroma with multiple angiomas (Maffucci syndrome) was first reported by Maffucci in 1881 after a 40-year-old woman died from complications following amputation of an arm. The patient had frequent and severe hemorrhage from a vascular tumor for which she was admitted to the hospital. In view of the profuse bleeding, an amputation was performed and the patient died from infection. Maffucci reported a thorough autopsy that described all the main points of the syndrome named after him. In 1941, Carleton et al proposed the eponym Maffucci syndrome.

Maffucci syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects both males and females. Maffucci syndrome is characterized by benign enlargements of cartilage (enchondromas); bone deformities; and dark, irregularly shaped hemangiomas. No racial or sexual predilection is apparent in Maffucci syndrome. No familial pattern of inheritance has been shown, but Maffucci syndrome manifests early in life, usually around age 4-5 years, with 25% of cases being congenital. Maffucci syndrome appears to develop from mesodermal dysplasia early in life. Patients apparently are of average intelligence, and no associated mental or psychiatric abnormalities seem to be present. About 160 cases of Maffucci syndrome have been published in the English literature. [1, 2, 3, 4] Note the image below.

Characteristic venous malformations on the patient Characteristic venous malformations on the patient's right upper extremity. These vascular malformations are benign and asymptomatic.


Maffucci syndrome affects the skin and the skeletal systems. Superficial and deep vascular lesions (usually hemangiomas) often protrude as soft nodules or tumors usually on the distal extremities, but they can appear anywhere. The hemangiomas are usually asymmetric. Venous-lymphatic malformations and hemangioendotheliomas can occur but are much less common. [5, 6, 7, 8] Enchondromas are benign cartilaginous tumors that can appear anywhere, but they are usually found on the phalanges and the long bones. These bone abnormalities are usually asymmetric and cause secondary fractures. Approximately 30-37% of enchondromas can develop into a chondrosarcoma.

The hemangiomas in Maffucci syndrome manifest as blue subcutaneous nodules that can be emptied by pressure. The hemangiomas can be unilateral or bilateral and are usually asymmetric. Thrombi often form within vessels and develop into phleboliths. These phleboliths appear as calcified vessels under microscopic examination.

Enchondromas develop from the mesodermal dysplasia associated with Maffucci syndrome. As the bones grow, some cartilage material is left behind and grows irregularly, developing into the characteristic bone deformities. Bone irregularities in Maffucci syndrome include shortened length of the long bones, unequal leg length, pathologic fractures, and malunion of fractures. [9]

In Maffucci syndrome, neoplastic changes occur in enchondromas. Chondrosarcoma is the most common neoplasm in this syndrome, affecting about 30% of patients. The average age for neoplastic change in Maffucci syndrome patients is 40 years. Vascular neoplasms have occurred in 4 reported cases: 2 hemangiosarcomas and 2 lymphangiosarcomas.




United States

Maffucci syndrome is rare. Fewer than 100 cases of Maffucci syndrome have been reported in the United States.


Maffucci syndrome is rare, with about 160 total case reports in the English literature.


No increased frequency of Maffucci syndrome occurs because of race.


Maffucci syndrome appears to be sporadically inherited. No sexual bias is present.


Lesions of Maffucci syndrome are first noted usually by age 4-5 years.



Patients with Maffucci syndrome usually lead reasonably normal lives with a normal life expectancy if no malignant transformation occurs.

Although the skeletal malformations can sometimes be crippling, patients have managed to perform activities of daily living rather well.


Patient Education

Patients can get further information from the following source: The National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc (NORD), PO Box 1968, 55 Kenosia Avenue, Danbury, CT 06813-1968, (203) 744-0100 or (800) 999-6673. Contact NORD by e-mail at