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Vascular Anomalies (Pediatric)

What are vascular anomalies? 

They comprise a rare group of non-cancerous disorders of abnormal growth of vascular and lymphatic vessels or tissues. Hemangiomas are the most common form of vascular anomaly, occurring in approximately 10 percent of Caucasian children and are less prevalent in other ethnicities. Girls are 3 to 5 times more likely to have vascular anomalies than boys. Vascular anomalies may be present at birth but usually appear in the first few weeks of life. Most hemangiomas are located on the skin and most frequently occur on the face, neck, or on the legs and arms. The next most common location is on the liver, although they can also grow in other internal organs, such as the larynx or small and large intestines.

What are the symptoms of vascular anomalies?

Symptoms may not be obvious until days, months, or even years later, depending on the nature and location of the malformations. If they are on the surface of the skin, they are reminiscent of a ripe strawberry; if they are just under the skin, they often appear as a bluish swelling. Swelling and pain may be present.

How are vascular anomalies diagnosed?

Prior to birth, a prenatal ultrasound of the fetus may show signs of vascular anomalies. 

After birth, diagnosis is confirmed by a physical exam of the child and imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans. 

What is the treatment for vascular anomalies?

Most hemangiomas do not cause any other physical problems, although it is possible that some may be associated with skin ulceration and bleeding. The most frequent complaints about hemangiomas are based on the fact that they can affect a person’s appearance. If treatment is necessary, it requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes surgeons, hematologists,  dermatologists, and interventional radiologists. 

Treatment entails:

  • Medical management
  • Sclerotherapy injections
  • Surgery and reconstruction

Read more about Columbia’s Vascular Anomalies Program.