Indian Journal of Paediatric Dermatology

: 2019  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 145--147

Vincristine, aspirin, and prednisolone therapy in Kasabach–Merritt phenomenon: Response in 2 cases

Shikha Gupta1, Subhash Bharti2, Niyaz Ahmed Khan3, Lavleen Singh4,  
1 Department of Dermatology, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, Delhi, India
2 Department of Dermatology, MIMER Medical College, Talegaon Dabhade, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Surgery, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, Delhi, India
4 Department of Pathology, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shikha Gupta
Department of Dermatology, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, Delhi


Kasabach–Merritt phenomenon (KMP) is a severe thrombocytopenic coagulopathy which usually occurs in the presence of enlarging vascular tumors such as kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (KHE) and tufted angioma. The treatment for this potentially fatal condition is challenging without a consensus on appropriate management. The authors report two cases of KHE with KMP, wherein improvement in size of tumor and coagulopathy occurred after treatment with prednisolone, vincristine, and aspirin.

How to cite this article:
Gupta S, Bharti S, Khan NA, Singh L. Vincristine, aspirin, and prednisolone therapy in Kasabach–Merritt phenomenon: Response in 2 cases.Indian J Paediatr Dermatol 2019;20:145-147

How to cite this URL:
Gupta S, Bharti S, Khan NA, Singh L. Vincristine, aspirin, and prednisolone therapy in Kasabach–Merritt phenomenon: Response in 2 cases. Indian J Paediatr Dermatol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Oct 25 ];20:145-147
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Full Text


Kasabach–Merritt phenomenon (KMP) is characterized by a severe thrombocytopenic coagulopathy that occurs due to platelet trapping in a vascular tumor such as kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (KHE) or tufted angioma and can lead to life-threatening multiorgan hemorrhage.[1],[2] Most of the patients are diagnosed based on clinical, imaging, and laboratory findings (profound thrombocytopenia and elevated serum D-dimer levels).[3]

The treatment options are multitude, thus illustrating a lack of consensus in the management of KHE associated with KMP.[2]

 Case Reports

Case 1

A 3-month old female child weighing 4.5 kg was referred to our center with a rapidly expanding reddish lesion over the right arm. It was noticed shortly after birth and 1 month back, it rapidly increased in size, turned bluish at few places, and child cried on touching the area. There was no history of fever or bleeding from any site. She had been diagnosed as cellulitis and had been prescribed antibiotics at a private center with no response. Gestational and perinatal history was unremarkable. On examination, right arm and upper forearm were swollen with bright red erythema [Figure 1]a. The swelling was tender, warm to touch, and indurated. Lymph nodes were not palpable. Routine investigations revealed decreased hemoglobin (9 g/dL) and platelet count (30,000/mm3). Coagulation studies were normal. Skin biopsy already performed at an outside center reported collections of spindle-shaped cells with vascular channels throughout dermis. MRI of right arm reported hypointense signal intensity areas on T1W images from right shoulder joint till mid forearm, consistent with vascular tumor. Therefore, a diagnosis of KMP in association with KHE was made, and patient was started on daily prednisolone 2 mg/kg and propranolol 7.5 mg (2 mg/kg). However, at the end of 4 weeks, there was a continuing decline in platelet count as well as hemoglobin (4000/mm3 and 7.2 g/dL, respectively). International normalized ratio was 2.0.{Figure 1}

Thus, injection vincristine 0.2 mg/week (0.05 mg/kg/week) intravenously and daily oral aspirin 50 mg (10 mg/kg) were added. Weekly monitoring of blood counts, liver and kidney function, bleeding time, clotting time, and coagulation profile along with a regular systemic examination was carried out. There was a marked clinical response after five cycles of therapy and rise in platelets (42,000/mm3) and hemoglobin (10.0 g/dL).

During the 8th week, a fall in total leukocyte count to 4000/mm3 was observed. Other blood counts were unchanged, and systemic examination including muscle tone and reflexes was normal. Therefore, vincristine was stopped, tablet aspirin continued, and a single infusion of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) was given. After a week, total leukocyte count increased to 11,000/mm3 and was maintained subsequently without any further intervention. Aspirin was stopped after 7 months of therapy when there was no further clinical improvement [Figure 1]b.

At 9 months of follow-up, child is healthy, gaining weight, and there is a marked reduction in swelling and erythema over right arm.

Case 2

A 2-month old male child weighing 3 kg presented to surgery department at our hospital with erythema and swelling over right thigh. He had previously undergone incision and drainage at a private center with lack of response. There was a history of preceding reddish lesion over this site since a week after birth. An incisional biopsy was performed, and the child was later referred to dermatology department. On examination, there was swelling, erythema, and induration over anterolateral aspect of upper right thigh [Figure 2]a. A fleshy mass was seen at the center of incision site. Swelling was warm to touch and nontender. There was no significant lymphadenopathy.{Figure 2}

Hemoglobin (8.8 g/dL) and platelet counts (5000/mm3) were low, and coagulation profile and liver and kidney function tests were normal. Biopsy report revealed nodular vascular proliferations in dermis and subcutis separated by desmoplastic tissue reaction [Figure 3]a. Nodules showed intercommunicating vascular channels of varying calibers with slit-like spaces in the periphery [Figure 3]b. Parents refused another biopsy from the fleshy mass at the center of the lesion. Therefore, keeping a diagnosis of KHE with KMP, patient was started on vincristine 0.15 mg/week (0.05 mg/kg/week), daily oral prednisolone 5 mg (2 mg/kg/day), and oral aspirin 25 mg (10 mg/kg/day) therapy.{Figure 3}

After 2 weeks, there was an improvement in erythema and swelling. Prednisolone was tapered off after 6 weeks of therapy. Two weeks later, after a consistent increase in hemoglobin and platelet counts (11.2 g/dL and 400,000/mm3, respectively), injection vincristine was discontinued. The child received aspirin for 6 months with marked clinical improvement [Figure 2]b. At 4 months of follow-up, there is no recurrence.


Diagnosis of KHE associated with KMP is usually delayed, and lack of experience in clinical diagnosis of vascular anomalies is one of the factors involved.[3] Both our cases were mistaken as cellulitis leading to unnecessary administration of antibiotics.

The cause of thrombocytopenia in KMP is intralesional platelet trapping.[4] Clinically significant KMP is a severe thrombocytopenia, generally below 30,000/μL.[5] Mortality rates vary between 10%–37%. Therapeutic options include steroids, interferon, embolization, vincristine, radiotherapy, and surgery.[1],[6]

In infants, glucocorticoid therapy is considered a good choice with onset of action at 1–2 weeks.[1] Our first patient did not respond to 2 mg/kg dose of oral prednisolone following which vincristine and aspirin were added.

Vincristine is a cytotoxic agent and possibly stimulates vascular regression.[7] It is also effective and safe option in combination with antiaggregant therapy.[2],[8] In general, both modalities are administered until normal platelet count is obtained, after which only antiaggregant agents are continued.[3] In a multicenter study on 15 patients with KMP treated with vincristine, the average response time was 4 weeks.[9] Our patients had an initial increase in platelet counts during 5th and 4th weeks of treatment, respectively.

Fernandez-Pineda et al.[2] observed 100% success rate with vincristine, aspirin, and ticlopidine therapy in treating 11 patients of KMP over 17 years. The mean duration of treatment was 3.9 months for vincristine, 13.9 months for aspirin, and 13.4 months for ticlopidine. Two patients (18.2%) developed polyneuropathy which resolved on discontinuing vincristine.[2] Furthermore, vincristine is a vesicant (care must be taken to avoid extravasation) and can cause myelosuppression, a dose-limiting side effect.[7] Our first patient developed a decrease in total leukocyte counts during 8th week of vincristine therapy which was managed with single infusion of G-CSF.

Regarding safety of aspirin in neonates and children, the American College of Chest Physicians guidelines suggest that Reye's syndrome appears to be a dose-dependent effect of aspirin and usually is associated with daily doses >40 mg/kg.[10]

Our second patient developed a mass over biopsy site which was likely a hyperproliferation of underlying vascular elements and it responded to treatment as the rest of the lesion. The authors' center lacks the facility of assessment of D-dimer and fibrinogen levels; therefore, these parameters could not be assessed.

The purpose of reporting these cases is to highlight the challenges associated with diagnosis and management of KMP and to stress on prolonged treatment with vincristine, prednisolone, and aspirin in improving the primary lesion as well as coagulopathy seen in this disorder.

Declaration of patient consent

We hereby declare that written consent has been obtained from parents of both the patients for publication of case material including various investigations and clinical photographs in a research journal. Due measures have been taken not to disclose the identity of the patients.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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