Indian Journal of Dermatology
: 2017  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 318--320

Desmoid tumor of rectus abdominis presenting with Grey-Turner's and Cullen's Sign: A report of a rare case

Angoori Gnaneshwar Rao, T Swathi, Saba Syeda Farheen, Amit Kolli, Sharanya Hari, Uday Deshmukh Reddy, Kondapi Deepak, Kranthi Jagadevapuram 
 Department of Dermatology, SVS Medical College, Mahbubnagar, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Angoori Gnaneshwar Rao
F12, B8, HIG-2 APHB, Baghlingampally, Hyderabad - 500 044, Telangana


Desmoid tumor of rectus abdominis presenting with Grey-Turner's and Cullen's sign is rare. Herein, we report desmoid tumor of rectus abdominis in a 64-year-old multiparous female who presented with ecchymosis involving left flank and around the umbilicus. Histopathological examination of biopsy from the tumor confirmed the diagnosis of the desmoid tumor. She was referred to a surgeon for radical resection.

How to cite this article:
Rao AG, Swathi T, Farheen SS, Kolli A, Hari S, Reddy UD, Deepak K, Jagadevapuram K. Desmoid tumor of rectus abdominis presenting with Grey-Turner's and Cullen's Sign: A report of a rare case.Indian J Dermatol 2017;62:318-320

How to cite this URL:
Rao AG, Swathi T, Farheen SS, Kolli A, Hari S, Reddy UD, Deepak K, Jagadevapuram K. Desmoid tumor of rectus abdominis presenting with Grey-Turner's and Cullen's Sign: A report of a rare case. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 May 20 ];62:318-320
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Full Text


Desmoid tumors are uncommon fibrous neoplasms originating from the musculoaponeurotic structures, account for 0.03% of all tumors and 3% of all soft-tissue neoplasms.[1] The term desmoid was coined by Muller in 1838 and is derived from the Greek word desmos, which means tendon like.

Grey-Turner's sign refers to bruising of the area between the last rib and top of the hip and is a sign of retroperitoneal hemorrhage. Cullen's sign is superficial edema and bruising in the subcutaneous fatty tissue around the umbilicus. Causes include acute pancreatitis, ruptured ectopic, aortic rupture, and coagulopathies.

 Case Report

A 64-year-old female presented with pain in the left flank for 2 months and bluish discoloration around the umbilicus and left flank of 10-day duration. There was no history of injury or intake of anticoagulants or personal or family history of bleeding diathesis. Examination revealed ecchymosis on the left flank extending onto the front of the abdomen and above the hip (Grey-Turner's sign) [Figure 1] and umbilicus and suprapubic region (Cullen's sign) [Figure 2]. An ill-defined firm, tender swelling of 5 cm × 6 cm was palpable in the left paraumbilical region. The swelling became less prominent on leg raising test. Routine hematological investigations were unremarkable. Blood chemistry was within normal limits, and human immune deficiency virus serology was nonreactive. Abdominal computed tomography showed single well-defined oval intermediate signal intensity lesion arising from the rectus sheath on the left side [Figure 3]a. Fine-needle aspiration cytology from swelling showed the clusters of spindle cells with moderate pleomorphism, suggestive of desmoid tumor [Figure 3]b. Histopathology of biopsy from swelling showed the spindle-shaped cells in fasciculated bundles, most of them with a spindle to oval nuclei [Figure 3]c and [Figure 3]d, confirmative of desmoid tumor. She was referred to a surgeon for radical surgical excision.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}


As per the World Health Organization, desmoid tumors are defined as “clonal fibroblastic proliferations that arise in the deep soft tissues and are characterized by infiltrative growth and a tendency toward local recurrence but an inability to metastasize“. Desmoids are characterized by mutations in the β-catenin gene, CTNNB1, or the adenomatous polyposis coli gene. The exact etiology of the desmoid tumor is not known; however, it has been postulated that the immunologic and hormonal changes in the pregnancy or postpartum play an important role. In addition, the local effect of the mechanical stress from a gravid uterus may also contribute to the occurrence of a desmoid tumor.[2]

It is prevalent among women of reproductive age group commonly occurring between the ages of 25 and 60 years. The abdominal desmoid tumor usually presents with pain; however, presentation of a desmoid tumor with Grey-Turner's sign and Cullen's sign in the index case is unique and rare. The anterior abdominal wall is the most common site of predilection with an incidence of 50%. Similarly, the index case also found to have a desmoid tumor in the anterior abdominal wall. Most abdominal wall desmoids measure between 5 cm and 15 cm in size. The size of desmoid (5/6 cm) in the index case is in concert with the size of most abdominal desmoids. Differential diagnosis of desmoid includes hypertrophic scars, nodular fasciitis, and fibroblastic sarcoma. Desmoid tumors are classified into three groups: within the abdominal wall, intra-abdominal, and extra-abdominal accounting for 25%, 15%, and 65%, respectively.[3] Extra-abdominal desmoid tumors are commonly found in the region of the shoulder girdle, trunk, and lower extremities. Furthermore, desmoid tumors are also known to occur in 10%–15% of patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. The association of intra-abdominal desmoids with familial adenomatous polyposis is known as Gardener's syndrome. However, there was no association with familial adenomatous polyposis in the index case.

Radical resection is the ideal and most effective treatment for small and accessible desmoid tumors such as the index case.[4] However, big desmoid tumors require full thickness surgery and reconstruction with synthetic material. Recurrence occurs in up to 45% of patients which depends on the tumor size and on the resection.[5] Radiation therapy can be used for recurrent disease or as a primary treatment to avoid mutilating surgical resection. Moreover, it may be used preoperatively, postoperatively, or as the only treatment.[6] Various therapeutic agents have been tried in the management of desmoid tumor which includes Tamoxifen, anti-estrogen and Indomethcin, COX-2 inhibitor.[7],[8],[9]

Desmoid tumor presenting with Grey-Turner's sign and Cullen's sign has not been reported in the literature so far, and this may be the first case report.

In conclusion, a desmoid tumor of rectus abdominis should strongly be suspected in patients presenting with Grey-Turner's sign and Cullen's sign. This may be added to the list of existing causes of Grey-Turner's sign and Cullen's sign.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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