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Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Alexandra C Cheerva, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Hassan M Yaish, MD  more...
 
Updated: May 24, 2016
 

History

Visible cutaneous blue, violaceous, or reddish-brown lesions are often the presenting features in patients with Kasabach-Merritt syndrome (KMS).[4] Most lesions are located on the extremities. Some infants and older children with visceral lesions present with an enlarged abdomen. Those with hepatic kaposiform hemangioendotheliomas also may present with hepatomegaly or jaundice. These vascular lesions may continue to enlarge during the first 18 months of life.

The thrombocytopenia and consumptive coagulopathy associated with KMS may not initially be severe. However, symptoms may worsen as the lesion enlarges and the infant grows. Affected infants may present soon after birth or may not come to medical attention for several months. Affected individuals rarely present as late as the second or third decade of life.

Petechiae, bruising, and frank bleeding may be the initial symptoms prompting medical treatment. The lesions may be painful.

The large volume of blood circulating through the lesion may cause high-output congestive heart failure in infants.[11] Cardiovascular compromise or collapse, petechiae, and bleeding may resemble acute overwhelming sepsis. When no cutaneous lesion is present, the physician must search for vascular lesions located in a visceral organ (eg, the spleen, liver, or brain).

Some patients with diffuse cavernous kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (KHE) of a visceral organ may present with anemia, thrombocytopenia, coagulopathy, and bleeding, which may be misdiagnosed as immune thrombocytopenic purpura.[12]

The natural history of KHE is that of slow regression, with the lesion leaving a reddish-brown discoloration that often does not resolve completely. It is unknown what percentage of KHE lesions develop into KMS.

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Physical Examination

A cutaneous vascular lesion is usually obvious, often appearing as a large irregular bruise (see the first image below). These lesions may occur anywhere on the body and may grow through the first 12-18 months of life, often circumscribed by widespread, overlying, shiny and dusky, purple skin.[13] Lesions of KHE (see the second image below), tufted angioma (TA), or a mixture of both present with a blue or reddish-brown discoloration and skin induration. When thrombocytopenia increases, a large violaceous, ecchymotic indurated mass forms.

Back of an arm showing the typical bruising associ Back of an arm showing the typical bruising associated with Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome.
Leg with a Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma, lesion Leg with a Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma, lesion associated with Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome.

Affected infants may exhibit petechiae, bruising, and bleeding. Bruising and ecchymoses may occur at distant sites. Internal lesions may present with only bruising and ecchymoses on the skin. The lesions are usually painful and tender. Aggressive infiltration with ulceration and infection is rare but can occur. Bleeding from thrombocytopenia and coagulopathy is observed both locally and, at times, distantly (ie, disseminated intravascular coagulation [DIC]).

Physical signs of high-output cardiac failure include tachycardia, feeding difficulty, and shock. Pallor may be evident in patients with significant anemia.

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Complications

The clinical course of KMS is unpredictable, and effective treatment depends on control of the invasive tumor before secondary complications occur.

Various complications of KMS relate to the site of the vascular lesion. For example, hemangiomas of the chest that invade the thorax can compromise lung expansion and cause respiratory insufficiency.

Other complications that may be seen include the following:

  • Severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 5 X 10 9/L (< 5000/µL)
  • Ulceration and bleeding into the vascular lesion
  • Bleeding secondary to DIC and unresponsive to platelet transfusions (potentially fatal)
  • Toxicity from the agents used to treat KMS (eg, secondary malignancy from radiation therapy)
  • High-output cardiac failure (potentially fatal)
  • Infections from skin breakdown with sepsis
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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Alexandra C Cheerva, MD, MS Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Louisville School of Medicine; Director of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Section of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Kosair Children's Hospital

Alexandra C Cheerva, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Children's Oncology Group, American Society of Clinical Oncology, International Pediatric Transplant Association, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Kentucky Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Ashok B Raj, MD Professor, Section of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Kosair Children's Hospital, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Ashok B Raj, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Kentucky Medical Association, Children's Oncology Group

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Salvatore Bertolone, MD Director, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Kosair Children's Hospital; Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Salvatore Bertolone, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Cancer Education, American Association of Blood Banks, American Cancer Society, American Society of Hematology, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Kentucky Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Hassan M Yaish, MD Medical Director, Intermountain Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Treatment Center; Professor of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine; Director of Hematology, Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, Department of Pediatrics, Primary Children's Medical Center

Hassan M Yaish, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, New York Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, American Society of Hematology, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Michigan State Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Emmanuel C Besa, MD Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, Kimmel Cancer Center, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University

Emmanuel C Besa, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for Cancer Education, American College of Clinical Pharmacology, American Federation for Medical Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, and New York Academy of Sciences

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Gary D Crouch, MD Associate Professor, Program Director of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship, Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Gary D Crouch, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics and American Society of Hematology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. Guy B Faguet, MD Former Professor, Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, Medical College of Georgia

Guy B Faguet, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association of Immunologists, American Society of Hematology, International Society of Hematology, New York Academy of Sciences, Southern Medical Association, and Southern Society for Clinical Investigation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Linda K Hendricks, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, Mercer University School of Medicine

Linda K Hendricks, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Hematology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Gary R Jones, MD Associate Medical Director, Clinical Development, Berlex Laboratories

Gary R Jones, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, and Western Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Michael Paul Kosty, MD Associate Director, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Divisions of Supportive Care Services and Hematology and Oncology, Ida M and Cecil H Green Cancer Center, Scripps Clinic

Michael Paul Kosty, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society of Hematology, and Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Bernice R Krafchik, MBChB, FRCPC Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Dermatology, University of Toronto

Bernice R Krafchik, MBChB, FRCPC is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Dermatological Association, Canadian Medical Association, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and Society for Pediatric Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Sejal Kuthiala, MD Staff Physician, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical College of Georgia

Sejal Kuthiala, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, MD, FRCPC Professor, Internal Medicine and Pathology, Director, Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, MD, FRCPC is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Blood Banks, American Clinical and Climatological Association, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society of Hematology, College of American Pathologists, International Society of Blood Transfusion, International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Disclosure: Glaxo Smith Kline Honoraria Speaking and teaching; Talecris Honoraria Board membership

Carlos Suarez, MD Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Leg with a Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma, lesion associated with Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome.
Back of an arm showing the typical bruising associated with Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome.
 
 
 
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