Discrepancy between the clinical and histopathologic diagnosis of soft tissue vascular malformations

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Soft tissue vascular malformations are generally diagnosed clinically, according to the International Society for the Study of Vascular Anomalies (ISSVA) classification. Diagnostic histopathologic examination is rarely performed.


We sought to evaluate the validity of the current diagnostic workup without routinely performed diagnostic histopathology.


We retrospectively determined whether there were discrepancies between clinical and histopathologic diagnoses of patients with clinically diagnosed vascular malformations undergoing therapeutic surgical resections in our center (2000–2015). Beforehand, a pathologist revised the histopathologic diagnoses according to the ISSVA classification.


Clinical and histopathologic diagnoses were discrepant in 57% of 142 cases. In these cases, the pathologist indicated the diagnosis was not at all a vascular malformation (n = 24; 17%), a completely different type of vascular malformation (n = 26; 18%), or a partially different type with regard to the combination of vessel-types involved (n = 31; 22%). Possible factors associated with the discrepancies were both clinician-related (eg, diagnostic uncertainty) and pathology-related (eg, lack of immunostaining).


Retrospective analysis of a subgroup of patients undergoing surgery.


The large discrepancy between clinical and histopathologic diagnoses raises doubt about the validity of the current diagnostic workup for vascular malformations. Clear clinical and histopathologic diagnostic criteria might be essential for a uniform diagnosis.

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