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The significance of cutaneous spider naevi in children
  1. S M Finn,
  2. M Rowland,
  3. F Lawlor,
  4. W Kinsella,
  5. L Chan,
  6. O Byrne,
  7. O O’Mahony,
  8. B Bourke
  1. Children’s Research Centre, Our Lady’s Hospital, Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, and Dublin Molecular Medicine Centre, Department of Paediatrics, University College Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Billy Bourke
    Children’s Research Centre, Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12, Ireland; billy.bourke{at}


Background: Cutaneous spider naevi are commonly considered to be a clinical sign of chronic liver disease. Little is known about their occurrence in children.

Aim: To evaluate the occurrence of spider naevi in children with and without liver disease.

Methods: The presence of spider naevi was investigated in 460 children, 34 of whom had chronic liver disease.

Results: Of children without liver involvement, 38% had at least one spider naevus. The prevalence of spider naevi increased with age. Of control patients aged 5 to 15 years, 2.5% had more than five spiders present. Although eight of 10 children with cirrhosis had at least one spider naevus, only four of 34 children with chronic liver disease had five or more spiders present. Most spiders were on the hands and very few were >5 mm in size.

Conclusions: Children with liver disease rarely have large numbers of spider naevi. Although the finding of five or more spider naevi is more common in liver disease, many normal children also have one or more of these lesions.

  • child
  • chronic liver disease
  • spider naevus

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