Vascular Anomalies

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Vascular Anomalies

Care for Kids’ Blood Vessel Growths

Baby being examined for a vascular malformation.

Children are born with tens of thousands of miles of blood vessels. Blood vessels include veins, capillaries, arteries and lymphatic vessels. When the blood vessels don’t develop the way they should, it’s called a “vascular anomaly” (also called a “vascular malformation”). Problems with blood vessels can involve more than one part of the body. That’s why at Nemours we’ve put together a team with your child’s whole well-being in mind. We work closely together — and with you — to develop a treatment plan that cares for your child not just today, but as they grow.

Vascular Anomalies We See

Vascular anomalies are growths that are benign (they aren’t cancerous). Depending on the type and location of the malformation, they may or not be noticeable when a baby is born. And how they look may change over time. Some common vascular anomalies include:

  • airway vascular anomalies (blood vessel problems in the lungs and other parts of the airway)
  • arteriovenous fistula (an abnormal connection between a vein and an artery)
  • arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal connection between a blood vessel carrying blood from the heart out to the body, and a vessel returning blood to the heart)
  • CLOVES syndrome (causes overgrowth of fatty tissue and abnormal blood vessel formation, plus problems with the skin, spine, bones and joints)
  • Gorham-Stout disease (also called “disappearing bone disease,” which involves bone loss and overgrowth of lymphatic vessels)
  • hemangioma (a growth of blood vessels that usually looks like a red birthmark on the skin)
  • hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (also called “HHT syndrome,” when the veins and arteries don’t connect like they should)
  • kaposiform hemangioendothelioma (also called “KHE,” a formation of blood vessels that can look like a birthmark)
  • Kasabach-Merritt syndrome (also called “Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon” or “hemangioma with thrombocytopenia,” when a group of blood vessels can disrupt part of the immune system)
  • Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome (includes the formation of red or purple birthmarks, sometimes called “port-wine stains,” on an arm or leg)
  • lymphatic malformation (a mass caused by abnormal formation of lymphatic vessels)
  • Maffucci syndrome (causes cartilage to overgrow in the bones)
  • multifocal lymphangioendotheliomatosis with thrombocytopenia (involves the formation of patches of abnormal blood vessel growth)
  • Parkes Weber syndrome (abnormal blood vessels that often look like large stains on the skin)
  • PHACE association (also called “PHACE syndrome,” involves a birthmark formed by abnormal blood vessel growth along with other birth defects) 
  • port-wine stain (a common birthmark, also called a “nevus flammeus,” caused when tiny blood vessels form in the skin and look like a red wine spill)
  • Proteus syndrome (also known as “Wiedemann syndrome,” which makes bones, skin and other tissues to grow too fast)
  • pyogenic granuloma (a skin mass made up of blood vessels that bleeds easily)
  • Sturge-Weber syndrome (causes a birthmark, usually on the head, and problems with blood flow to the brain)
  • tufted angioma (a noncancerous tumor of blood vessels that forms just below the skin)
  • venous malformation (when veins haven't grown the right way — they may be larger and more tangled than normal veins)

Services We Offer for Vascular Anomalies

Vascular anomalies in children usually involve more than one part of the body. So our teams often include many specialists like interventional radiologists, radiologists (medical imaging specialists), otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat/ENT), neurosurgeons, orthopedists, plastic surgeons, dermatologists and others as needed. Together, we’re helping to lead the way in providing the latest in medical, interventional (minimally invasive radiology) and surgical therapies for kids.

Minimally invasive procedures may use a long, thin catheter to cut off the circulation in abnormal blood vessels. Or, doctors may use an ultrasound to help guide a needle directly into the growth to inject medication. Minimally invasive procedures usually mean less scarring, less pain, less bleeding and a faster recovery for kids.

Our advanced services, which may vary depending on the condition or location, may include:

  • clinical trials (to help your child benefit from the latest treatment options)
  • carbon dioxide (CO2) superficial laser ablation (using a laser on the skin’s surface to remove tumors and other growths)
  • endovenous laser ablation (inserting a tiny tube into blood vessels to close them)
  • multidisciplinary procedures (combining more than one type of procedure when it’s appropriate)
  • pulsed-dye laser (using a laser to remove blood vessels in the skin)
  • propranolol therapy (using medication to treat blood vessel growth)
  • sclerotherapy (injecting a solution into a blood vessel to close it)
  • surgical resection/debulking (removing or reducing the size of blood vessel formations through surgery)

Why Choose Us for Vascular Anomalies

At Nemours, we have special vascular anomaly expertise, leading and working with local, state and national vascular anomaly teams. We also have one of the largest pediatric interventional radiology program in the country. And some of our radiologists are among only a few hundred in the nation who are dual-fellowship-trained in both pediatric diagnostic and interventional radiology, or pediatric radiology and neuroradiology.

In addition, our nurse navigators, educators, social workers and Child Life specialists provide:

  • advocacy: helping you get the services you need at school and in the community
  • care coordination: scheduling multiple appointments, tests, procedures and at-home care when and where you need it
  • collaboration: helping you create a support system and connecting you with similar families
  • communication: keeping your primary care and community providers informed
  • encouragement and help to ease fears/concerns: offering medical play therapy and procedure/surgery demonstrations

And, as a whole team, we work together to advance the research of vascular anomalies. We want to help kids around the globe get the best possible care — even those who never enter our doors.

Regional Vascular Anomaly Highlights 

Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.

We offer complete vascular malformation care at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware (Wilmington, Del.).

We offer complete vascular malformation care at Nemours Children’s Hospital (Orlando)

We offer complete vascular malformation care at Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville (working with Wolfson Children’s Hospital). Our care team includes the only pediatric interventional radiologists in North Florida.

Research & Clinical Trials

At Nemours, we’re actively researching new approaches for childhood disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

KidsHealth Library

Learn more about your child’s medical condition from the experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.