What are Glomus Tumors?
A Glomus Tumor is rare, usually benign, soft tissue neoplasm. The glomus apparatus (or glomus body) is a part of the dermal layer of the skin and is thought to aid in temperature regulation. When exposed to cold temperatures, the glomus body moves blood away from the skins surface to reduce heat loss. While they are located all over the body, glomus apparatus are found in higher concentrations in the fingers and toes. Abnormal growth of a glomus body results in Glomus Tumors.
Glomus Tumors usually occur in people 20 to 50 years of age, but are more frequent in young adults. More common in women, 70% of Glomus Tumors present in the hand with the vast majority occurring underneath the nail bed. Most of the nodules are solitary but can occur in clusters. Glomus Tumors represent 1 to 5% of all soft tissue tumors in the hand and fingers.
What causes Glomus Tumors?
The etiology of Glomus Tumors is unknown; however they are thought to have a hereditary link.
What are the symptoms of Glomus Tumors?
Glomus Tumors usually present as a small, firm, reddish-blue bump underneath the finger nail. These lesions are usually quite small, less than 7mm in diameter. They can be extremely painful, are sensitive to temperature change, and tender on palpation. The pain is often worse at night and can be relieved by applying a tourniquet. The mass can cause the nail bed to grow irregularly with ridging possible.
How are Glomus Tumors diagnosed?
Glomus Tumors often require a specialist for accurate diagnosis. Upon examination the mass may appear as a bluish lesion under the nail or in the fingertip pulp. There may be an abnormal ridge in the nail, swelling at the tip and the nodule will be tender to touch. X-rays may show deformity or erosion in the distal phalanx if the mass is long standing, otherwise the films may appear normal. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is the gold standard for diagnosis.
How are Glomus Tumors treated?
Surgical excision of the tumor is the only treatment modality. During a 15 minute outpatient procedure the nail is removed, an incision is made into the nail bed exposing the tumor, and the tumor is removed. The site is sutured closed and bandaged. The symptoms of pain and cold intolerance are immediately relieved and the nail will grow back to normal appearance in 3 to 4 months.
How can Dr. Knight help you with a glomus tumor?
When it comes to this rare and complex finger tumor, it is important to find a surgeon who is well-versed in their treatment and who has seen many cases. Dr. Knight is one such surgeon, and he will bring his expertise to bear in your case, which will, no doubt, lead to a quick diagnosis after a long period of pain that has been difficult to diagnose.
Note: The following video contains graphic images.
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