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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Types of Vascular Anomalies: Kaposiform Hemangioendothelioma

Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (KHE) is a rare, sometimes fast-growing vascular tumor that typically occurs during infancy or early childhood. These tumors are often associated with an overlying vascular birthmark (lesion) on the skin. These tumors are usually benign (not cancerous). KHE is not inherited, and the cause is not known.

Signs and Symptoms

KHE lesions most frequently appear on the head, neck, stomach, back, arms or legs. The lesions typically have the following characteristics:

  • Deep reddish-purple color
  • Shiny, firm texture
  • Warm to the touch
  • Swollen and painful


Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma is a complex condition and should be assessed and diagnosed by a physician who specializes in vascular anomalies. Diagnostic testing may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI or CT imaging


Treatment for KHE varies depending on each child’s symptoms and the extent of the disease. Treatment may include:

  • Medications to slow the tumor’s growth, or to shrink the tumor
  • Surgery may be appropriate in some cases in which the tumor can be safely removed

NOTE: The presence of Kaposiform hemangioendothelioma raises the risk of developing Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon, a rare condition that can be life-threatening. » Read more about Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon.

About Our Program

The Vascular Anomalies Program at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital offers an integrated and comprehensive approach to the diagnosis, care and management of hemangiomas and vascular malformations. Our multidisciplinary team of pediatrics experts works together to educate families and to evaluate and treat children with all types of these vascular lesions. » Read more about our program and our team.