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Arch Dermatol. 2003 Jul;139(7):869-75.

The nonrandom distribution of facial hemangiomas.

Author information

  • 1Department of Head and Neck Surgery and Otolaryngology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock, 72202, USA. waner.milton@uams.edu



To map sites of occurrence of facial infantile hemangiomas and correlate these with pattern of tumor growth, clinical complications, and proximity to structural and developmental landmarks.


A retrospective medical record review of 205 patients diagnosed with facial infantile hemangioma.


Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock, a 250-bed teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


Based on their clinical photographs, 232 of the hemangiomas were mapped on a facial schematic. Each lesion was encoded with a number reflective of its location, and this number was shared by other lesions occurring at the same site. Frequencies of complicating ulceration and airway obstruction were determined by medical record review.


Two patterns of tumor growth were evident among the hemangiomas analyzed: focal (177 lesions [76.3%]) and diffuse (55 lesions [23.7%]). The focal hemangiomas mapped to 22 sites of occurrence, all near lines of mesenchymal or mesenchymal-ectodermal embryonic fusion. The 55 diffuse hemangiomas showed a segmental tissue distribution and thus were designated as frontonasal (15 lesions [27%]), maxillary (19 lesions [35%]), or mandibular (21 lesions [38%]). Ulceration was 3 times more common in patients with diffuse hemangiomas (21 [51%] of 41) than in patients with focal hemangiomas (28 [17%] of 164). Airway obstruction was characteristic of diffuse mandibular hemangiomas.


Facial infantile hemangiomas occurred in 2 distinct patterns of tissue involvement: a focal type with a tumorlike appearance and a less common diffuse type with a plaquelike appearance. The diffuse lesions were more likely to be complicated by ulceration or airway obstruction and showed a strikingly segmental distribution pattern. Focal hemangiomas, in contrast, showed a predilection for regions of embryological fusion.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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