Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Giant Congenital Sclerosing Blue Nevus of the Scalp Presenting with Rapidly Disseminated Fatal Metastases in a Pediatric Patient

DeFazio, Michael V., MD; Chao, Jerry W., MD; Oh, Albert K., MD; Rogers, Gary F., MD

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open: February 2016 - Volume 4 - Issue 2 - p e627
doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000000619
United States

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Children’s National Medical Center, Wash.

Correspondence to Gary F. Rogers, MD, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Children’s National Medical Center, 111 Michigan Avenue, NW, WA, DC 20010,

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

Back to Top | Article Outline


Giant congenital blue nevi (GCBN) are rare dermal melanocytic proliferations that are distinguished by their large size, aggressive behavior, and propensity for malignant degeneration.1 To date, only 18 cases of GCBN involving the scalp have been reported. Among these, local invasion into the calvaria/dura (n = 10), malignant transformation (n = 6), and disseminated metastases (n = 5) were observed.2 Although the precise nature of malignant change is unclear, adults with histopathologically cellular GCBN are most commonly affected.2 We report the first case of a sclerosing GCBN of the scalp presenting with rapidly progressive fatal metastases in a toddler.

A 17-month-old girl presented for evaluation of a 15 × 20-cm blue-gray plaque of the scalp that had grown commensurately with the child since birth. The patient’s history was notable for posterior encephalocele repair during infancy, resulting in an occipital bone defect and chronic/stable ulceration at the vertex. Initial magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a noninvasive parietooccipital mass with an underlying 12-cm2 calvarial defect. Multiple incisional biopsies from ulcerated and nonulcerated regions revealed histopathologic features of sclerosing GCBN with extensive dermal/subcutaneous infiltration (ie, spindle-shaped melanocytes/dense collagenous stroma). Given these benign findings, conservative observation/local wound care was pursued in the hopes that dural-induced calvarial regeneration would improve the safety of tumor resection from the underlying scarred dura. However, the patient presented 7 months later with rapidly enlarging subcutaneous nodules, necrosis, and new-onset pain, vomiting, and ataxia (Fig. 1). Repeated magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated interval development of 2 sublesional masses with intracranial extension and calvarial/dural invasion (Fig. 2). A histopathologic diagnosis of melanoma (ie, atypical epithelioid melanocytes, large/pleomorphic nuclei, necrosis, numerous mitoses) arising within the areas reminiscent of sclerotic blue nevus was confirmed. Immunostains for BRAF V600 were negative; however, homozygous deletion of the 9p21 locus (CDKN2A/P16 tumor suppressor) was identified in 40% of cells analyzed by fluorescent in situ hybridization. Total body positron emission tomography revealed disseminated visceral metastases. The patient subsequently died 3 weeks later from widespread metastatic disease.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

This case presents several unique findings that deviate from previously reported trends. Morphologically, the majority of GCBN display cellular histopathologic features, which correlate well with their proclivity for invasive growth and malignant degeneration.1,2 In contrast, sclerosing blue nevi are predominantly benign, solitary, well-circumscribed nodules. Focal malignant melanoma arising within this subtype has been reported only once; however, no association with GCBN or disseminated metastases was documented.3 Furthermore, the onset of malignant change during childhood is exceedingly rare (n = 2) and may signify a more aggressive clinicopathologic phenotype.2,4 Diagnosis in our case was made on the basis of rapidly progressive metastatic disease and malignant histopathologic findings. Although cytogenetic analyses have been advocated for histologically equivocal tumors, their utility remains limited in the absence of established criteria for malignancy. Interestingly, however, homozygous deletion of the 9p21 locus—as observed in our patient—is detected in a high percentage of locally invasive/metastasizing melanomas.5 Although the significance of this finding in GCBN has not been validated, it may indicate a more clinically aggressive form of malignant transformation.

Currently, guidelines for the management of GCBN do not exist. When feasible, early prophylactic removal should be considered before extensive local invasion and/or metastasis precludes curable resection. In all cases, vigilant follow-up and biopsy of any new lesions are mandatory, and parents should be counseled regarding the significant, yet unpredictable, risk of malignant transformation. Further data are needed to determine the optimal management strategy, including adequate resection margins and indications for sentinel node biopsy and systemic adjuvant therapy in these rare but highly morbid tumors.

Back to Top | Article Outline


The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article. The Article Processing Charge was paid for by the authors.

Back to Top | Article Outline


1. Botev IN. Giant congenital cellular blue naevus of the scalp and cranium. Br J Plast Surg. 1998;51:410–411
2. Nakamura Y, Shibata-Ito M, Nakamura Y, et al. Malignant blue nevus arising in a giant congenital cellular blue nevus in an infant. Pediatr Dermatol. 2012;29:651–655
3. Pozo L, Diaz-Cano SJ. Malignant deep sclerosing blue naevus presenting as a subcutaneous soft tissue mass. Br J Dermatol. 2004;151:508–511
4. Silverberg GD, Kadin ME, Dorfman RF, et al. Invasion of the brain by a cellular blue nevus of the scalp. A case report with light and electron microscopic studies. Cancer. 1971;27:349–355
5. Reed JA, Loganzo F Jr, Shea CR, et al. Loss of expression of the p16/cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2 tumor suppressor gene in melanocytic lesions correlates with invasive stage of tumor progression. Cancer Res. 1995;55:2713–2718
© 2016 American Society of Plastic Surgeons