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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 159-163

Reddish-blue lesion of the tongue

1 Department of Oral Pathology, Luxmi Bai Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Patiala, Punjab, India
2 Department of Oral Surgery, Guru Nanak Dev Dental College and Research, Sunam, Punjab, India
3 Department of Conservative Dentistry, Luxmi Bai Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Patiala, Punjab, India

Date of Web Publication3-Jul-2019

Correspondence Address:
Manveen Kaur Jawanda
#9, Doctors Colony, Bhadson Road, Patiala - 147 004, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJDS.IJDS_20_19

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Although hemangioma is considered as the most common soft-tissue tumors of the head and neck, it is relatively rare in the oral cavity and uncommonly encountered by dental professionals. The occurrence of hemangiomas on the tongue is extremely rare. Changes in blood flow dynamics within hemangioma result in thrombus and phleboliths. This article presents a relatively rare and unusual case of cavernous hemangioma of the dorsum of the tongue with phleboliths in a 55-year-old male.

Keywords: Cavernous hemangioma, hemangioma, phlebolith

How to cite this article:
Jawanda MK, Narula R, Sharma V, Gupta P. Reddish-blue lesion of the tongue. Indian J Dent Sci 2019;11:159-63

How to cite this URL:
Jawanda MK, Narula R, Sharma V, Gupta P. Reddish-blue lesion of the tongue. Indian J Dent Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 May 28];11:159-63. Available from: http://www.ijds.in/text.asp?2019/11/3/159/261942

  Introduction Top

The diagnosis of tongue lesions is a challenge for any clinician.[1] The tongue is a complex area of the mouth, with a variety of native tissue types that give rise to a plethora [1] of pathological conditions, both benign and malignant [Table 1].[1] A painless, soft, reddish-blue mass on the tongue indicates the presence of lymphangioma, hemangioma, neurofibroma, pyogenic granuloma, chronic inflammatory gingival hyperplasia (epulis), and even squamous cell carcinoma.[1]
Table 1: Differential diagnosis of tongue lesions

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Although hemangioma is considered as the most common soft-tissue tumors of the head and neck,[2] it is relatively rare in the oral cavity and uncommonly encountered by [2] dental professionals. Changes in blood flow dynamics within hemangioma result in thrombus and phleboliths.[3]

After an extensive search of the English-language literature, only a few cases of head-and-neck hemangiomas with phleboliths were properly documented. Around seven cases have been reported in buccal mucosa or cheek;[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10] ten cases were in the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands;[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20] one case was in the floor of the mouth;[20],[21] one case was in the hypopharynx;[3] four cases were on the masseter;[22],[23],[24],[25] one case was in the parapharyngeal space;[26] and one was at the base of the tongue.[27] Here, we report another relatively rare and unusual case of cavernous hemangioma of the dorsum of the tongue with phleboliths in a 55-year-old male.

  Case Report Top

A 55-year-old male has been reported to our institute for the evaluation of a painless mass on the posterolateral surface of the tongue. The patient noticed the swelling 2.5 years back and complained of bleeding from the site 1.5 months back. The patient was unaware of the exact duration of the swelling. The patient appeared to be of normal built with no defect in stature or gait and with no relevant medical history. Intraoral examination revealed a growth measuring about 1.0 cm × 1.0 cm, with a reddish-blue discoloration of the overlying mucosa at the right posterolateral surface of the tongue. The growth appeared to be sessile with no attachment to the underlying muscles [Figure 1]. The lesion showed well-defined borders along with intact surface. The swelling was soft to palpate, and no pulsations, bruits, or thrills were heard. A differential diagnosis of lymphangioma, hemangioma, and pyogenic granuloma was given based on the clinical findings. The mass was excised and sent for histopathological examination. The healing was uneventful. Gross specimen was oval, firm with a pebbly surface [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Clinical photograph showing a reddish-blue lesion on the posterolateral surface of the tongue

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Figure 2: Photograph showing gross excisional tissue

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The histopathological examination revealed numerous endothelium-lined, large, dilated blood sinuses beneath the keratinized stratified squamous epithelium [Figure 3]. In few vascular spaces, the lumina appeared to be blocked by eosin-colored fibrinous material, suggestive of thrombus along with calcium deposits [Figure 4]a and [Figure 4]b. Microscopically, the calcifications were consistent with phleboliths [Figure 4]c. Correlating clinical findings with histopathological features, a confirmatory diagnosis of cavernous hemangioma of the tongue with phleboliths was made.
Figure 3: Photomicrograph showing numerous endothelium-lined, large, dilated blood sinuses beneath the keratinized stratified squamous epithelium (H and E, ×10)

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Figure 4: Photomicrograph showing (a and b) thrombus obliterating entire lumen and endothelial lining of the vessel wall (c) phlebolith with concentric lamellar structure (H and E, ×40)

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  Discussion Top

Hemangioma (Greek: Haima – blood, angeion – vessel, oma – tumor) by definition can be defined as “a benign tumor of dilated blood vessels.” Hemangioma is often present at birth and extends during growth. However, many vascular lesions regress spontaneously before or during puberty with a few that go undetected for long periods of time until sudden growth induces pain or cosmetic deformity.[11] The relation of trauma to neoplastic growth has always excited interest and is of unquestionable importance.[28] The posterolateral surface of the tongue is more prone to trauma (injury from teeth) as compared to other sites, so it seems reasonable to suppose that tumors occurring in these areas are often considered to result from such injury.[28] In that way, an injury could start a neoplastic process is interesting to consider.[28] It is thought that trauma of this variety could initiate an abnormal arteriovenous communication. Such a communication would suddenly compel small vessels to withstand pressure and carry a volume of blood to which they are unaccustomed.[28] The sudden stretching and dilatation of their walls would, in some way, resemble a chronic irritative process. The endothelium might be stimulated to proliferate to protect the vessel, and this proliferation might get beyond control,[28] resulting in an abnormally differentiated and proliferating mitotic endothelial cell network.[28] Hence, in our case, trauma may have served as an inciting stimulus.

Phleboliths associated with vascular anomalies were initially found in the splenic vein by Canstatt in 1843[29] Phleboliths are calcified nodules that can be regarded as a characteristic property of venous or cavernous hemangiomas.[21] They may originate from injury to a vessel wall or result from stagnation of the flow of blood. The injury can result in damage to the intima. Healing involves formation of a protective thrombus that may calcify as a part of the healing process. Slowing with stagnation of blood flow also favors thrombus formation.[30] The thrombus organizes with laminar fibrosis and progresses to central necrosis. Subsequently, deposits of calcium, phosphate, and apatite lead to crystallization, and with calcification of the thrombus, a phlebolith evolves.[30]

Although intravascular calcifications are common in the veins of the pelvis, phleboliths are rarely found in vascular lesions of the maxillofacial area.[4],[7] The occurrence of hemangioma on the tongue is extremely rare. The present report is an unusual case of cavernous hemangioma occurring on the tongue with phleboliths.

Hemangiomas usually appear 2–4 weeks after birth, grow rapidly till the age of 6–8 months, and then slowly develop. By the age of 5–8 years, they start to involute and spontaneously regress in 70% of the cases.[31] In the case presented here, the patient reported at a very late age of 55 years, because of the lesion, being on the posterior part of the tongue, it might have gone undetected for such a long time. Although benign, the lesion can progress with unfavorable complications. Complications may be physical (i.e., hemorrhage, infection, or disfigurement) or psychological secondary to cosmetic concerns.[32] In the present case, as the lesion was on the tongue, recurrent bleeding from the lesion was a major concern.

Histologically, the appearance of these lesions depends on the stage of evolution. Early lesions may be very cellular with solid nests of plump endothelial cells and little vascular lumen. Established lesions comprise well-developed, flattened, and endothelium-lined capillary channels of varying sizes in a lobular configuration. Involuting lesions show increased fibrosis and hyalinization of capillary walls with luminal occlusion.[33] In cavernous hemangioma, there is the presence of large, dilated blood sinuses with thin walls, each showing an endothelial lining.[34] The sinusoidal spaces are usually filled with blood, although there might be the presence of lymphatic vessels.[35] Microscopically, phleboliths consist of calculi with characteristic concentric lamination.[24] Histopathological analysis of the present case showed typical features of hemangioma along with phleboliths and numerous thrombi, so we diagnosed this case as cavernous hemangioma with phleboliths.

Hemangiomas may mimic other lesions clinically and histopathologically.[36] The differential diagnosis includes lymphangioma, neurofibroma, pyogenic granuloma, chronic inflammatory gingival hyperplasia (epulis), telangiectasia, angiosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and other vascular-appearing lesions.[33] The most common vascular proliferation of the oral mucosa is pyogenic granuloma. This is a reactive lesion that develops rapidly, bleeds easily, and is usually associated with inflammation and ulceration. Clinically, it is often lobulated, pedunculated, and red to purple, and it may be hormone sensitive.[34] There are two histological types of pyogenic granuloma of the oral cavity: the lobular capillary hemangioma (LCH) and non-LCN type. LCH is characterized by proliferating blood vessels that are organized in lobular aggregates although superficially the lesion frequently undergoes no specific change, including edema, capillaries dilatation, or inflammatory granulation tissue reaction, whereas the second type consists of highly vascular proliferation that resembles granulation tissue.[34],[37] Histopathologically, the hemangioma exhibits a progression from a densely cellular proliferation of endothelial cells in the early stages to a lobular mass of well-formed capillaries in the mature phase, often resembling the pyogenic granuloma without the inflammatory features.[2] The present case has clinical features of a pyogenic granuloma, but no microscopic features of pyogenic granuloma. Therefore, biopsy of tissue specimen is often necessary for a definitive diagnosis of hemangiomas. The diagnosis of a head-and-neck phlebolith requires its differentiation from other calcifications that occur in the same area.[30] Salivary gland calculi, tonsilloliths, calcified lymph nodes, soft-tissue tumors, calcification of arteries, antrolith, multiple military osteomas of the skin, myositis ossificans, calcified acne, and cysticercosis, all serve to muddy the diagnostic waters.[30]

Hence, precise diagnosis of the type of vascular lesion is important because it may influence treatment considerably. It becomes mandatory for practitioners to correctly manage any such lesions, as the surgical intervention involves invasive procedures, and only the histopathologic report can give a confirmatory diagnosis.

  Conclusion Top

The case presented here adds to the existing few cases of cavernous hemangioma with phleboliths reported in the English literature. The present case explains the possible etiologic relation of trauma to a vessel wall resulting in an occurrence of the neoplasm at a late age of 55 years. Hence, hemangioma with phleboliths should be considered in the differential diagnosis of swellings of the tongue.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

  [Table 1]


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