Indian Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery

: 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 309--311

Extradigital glomus tumor of left forearm: An unusual cause for persistent forearm pain

Devender Singh1, Shilpa Polineni2, Basavarajendra Anurshetru1, Aryala Shalini1,  
1 Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
2 Department of Radiodiagnosis, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Devender Singh
Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, Telangana


Glomus tumors are rare, benign, and vascular neoplasm of the glomus body, accounting <2% of all soft tissue tumors. The most common site is the subungual region of the fingers and toes. Extradigital sites, including the forearm, are uncommon and usually misdiagnosed because of their rarity and nonspecific presentation. Diagnosis is often delayed due to low level of suspicion. A strong clinical suspicion, magnetic resonance imaging, and a properly planned surgery remain the treatment. We report a 70-year-old male presented with a very small painful left forearm swelling for the last 20 years who had undergone surgical excision.

How to cite this article:
Singh D, Polineni S, Anurshetru B, Shalini A. Extradigital glomus tumor of left forearm: An unusual cause for persistent forearm pain.Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg 2020;7:309-311

How to cite this URL:
Singh D, Polineni S, Anurshetru B, Shalini A. Extradigital glomus tumor of left forearm: An unusual cause for persistent forearm pain. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Dec 1 ];7:309-311
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Full Text


Glomus tumors are benign neoplasms containing cells from the glomus apparatus, which is responsible for thermoregulatory control, accounting 1–2% of all soft tissue tumors.[1],[2] Histologically, glomus tumors and their variants are benign neoplasms requiring only a simple excision.[3] Painful subcutaneous nodule formation located on the subungual area of the digits is the usual presentation of glomus tumors.[2] Extradigital glomus tumors are rare lesions, and their diagnosis is often delayed due to low level of suspicion.[4] We present a case of extradigital glomus tumor of the left forearm suffering for the last 20 years, treated with correct diagnosis and surgical excision.

 Case Report

We report a 70-year-old male otherwise healthy presenting with complaints of painful, tender swelling on the radial aspect of the left distal forearm for the last 20 years. Pain is excruciating and forced him to visit multiple specialists, including neurologists, orthopedicians, surgeons, and physicians for the last 4 years. The swelling is 2 cm × 1 cm, bluish, and extremely tender, not even allowing to be touched [Figure 1]. He was treated with various combination of drugs, i.e., analgesics, anxiolytics, antidepressants, and alternative medicines, but of no improvement. On examination, he was pointing over a spot which was exquisitely tender. Hildreth's and Love's signs were positive. Plain films of the affected thumb did not reveal any abnormality. With a strong suspicion of extradigital glomus tumor, he underwent ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which revealed a subcutaneous vascular lesion (18 mm × 9 mm) encasing cephalic vein of the left distal forearm [Figure 2]. The swelling was excised [Figure 3] with a part of the cephalic vein [Figure 4] under local anesthesia and sent for histopathological examination, which confirmed glomus tumor [Figure 5] and [Figure 6]. The patient is pain-free after excision.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}{Figure 5}{Figure 6}


The extradigital glomus tumor is an uncommon condition rarely coming into consideration in routine practice, and therefore, it commonly creates a confusion in diagnosis.[5] Extradigital glomus tumor is a rare presentation commonly encountered in the lower extremity.[6] In this patient, it was over left forearm. These patients give a typical history of excruciating pain and to the extent of demanding an amputation.[7] Careful history and clinical examination are the important tools in the diagnosis.

Clinically, glomus tumors are characterized by a triad of sensitivity to cold, localized tenderness, and severe and intermittent pain,[8] which can be excruciating and is described as a burning or bursting. The exact cause of the pain is unknown, but nerve fibers containing the pain neurotransmitter substance P have been identified in the tumors.[9] Diagnosis of glomus tumors is primarily clinical. Several clinical tests are useful for diagnosing glomus tumors. Love reported that localization of the tenderness to an area and the size of a pinhead were suggestive of glomus tumor.[10] For a positive Love's pin test, the patient should experience severe pain when the skin overlying the tumor is pressed with a ballpoint pen, end of a paperclip, pinhead, or K-wire. The cold-sensitivity test is positive when immersing the hand in cold water for 60 s elicits severe pain in and around the lesion. In addition, there should be a history of cold weather aggravating the symptoms being evident in our patient. Hildreth's test is another reliable clinical sign for the diagnosis of glomus tumors.[11] This test is performed by elevating the patients' arm to exsanguinate it. A tourniquet is inflated to 250 mmHg, and if the test is positive, then there is a reduction in pain and tenderness. A test is also positive when releasing the cuff causes a sudden onset of pain and tenderness in the area of the tumor. Ultrasound imaging is considered as the initial and usually the most useful method for the evaluation of the glomus tumor.[12] MRI may further be useful for the detection of the tumor.[13]

The preferred treatment for isolated glomus tumor is a complete surgical excision.[14] The incidence of tumor recurrence after surgical excision ranges from 5% to 50%, depending primarily on the surgical technique.[15]


Glomus tumors are benign vascular tumors but usually impact patients' quality of life, due to the severity of the pain and the persistence of symptoms for years before being diagnosed. Atypical locations and presentations of extradigital tumors can lead to misdiagnosis, particularly where the lesion is rarely reported. Therefore, being aware of this variation and special characteristics of extradigital tumors can lead to early diagnosis and treatment. Finally, physical examination of painful subcutaneous mass in the limbs should always be conducted with the raise suspicion of glomus tumor.

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.


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