Vascular Malformations

A vascular malformation is a type of vascular anomaly where a child’s blood vessels have grown abnormally or connected in an unusual way. Most vascular malformations in children form during a baby’s development in the uterus, and some can form after birth.

If your child has a vascular malformation or a hemangioma, you can trust the internationally recognized surgeons, specialists and researchers throughout Nemours Children’s Health System to provide advanced, life-enhancing care for your child and family.

Read More About Vascular Malformations in Children

Vascular malformations and tumors vary in size and they can change over time. Depending on the type and location, a malformation may be harmless or potentially life-limiting. Vascular malformations involve four types of vessels:

  • arteries, which carry blood from the heart out to the body
  • capillaries, the tiny vessels in all parts of the body that allow nutrients in the blood to filter out
  • veins, which return blood to the heart
  • lymph vessels, which collect fluid from the tissues, channel it to the torso (body core) and return it to the bloodstream.

Vascular malformations in children often involve more than one part of the body, so our multidisciplinary vascular anomaly teams include experts from several specialties: otolaryngologists (also known as ear, nose and throat or "ENT" surgeons), pediatric interventional radiologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric orthopedists, pediatric plastic surgeons, hematologists (blood specialists), dermatologists and others.

Vascular malformations can affect a child’s physical health, but they may also impact social and emotional development. While there is no single cause for vascular malformations, there are many effective treatments to correct and manage them — and their related conditions — so that your child can live a happy, independent life.

Expert Care You Can Trust

The Nemours vascular anomaly multidisciplinary teams include highly specialized, board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric interventional radiologists, surgeons and medical specialists who have extensive experience providing innovative, researched-based treatments — including minimally invasive procedures — to children of all ages (from the tiniest newborns to adolescents).

Types of Vascular Malformations in Children We Treat

Vascular anomalies are relatively common, occurring in about 1 in 10 births. At Nemours, we treat nearly every type of pediatric vascular anomaly, from the mildest to the most severe. Some of the vascular anomalies we treat are:

  • arteriovenous malformation (a tangle of arteries and veins)
  • hemangioma
  • hemangioendothelioma (a rare vascular tumor that often develops in the womb)
  • kaposiform hemangioendothelioma or “KHE” (a rare vascular tumor that usually develops later)
  • nevus flammeus (port-wine stain, a common birthmark)
  • pyogenic granuloma (a benign skin growth that bleeds easily)
  • tufted angioma (a rare benign vascular tumor that appears during infancy or early childhood)
  • venous malformation
  • combined vascular malformations
  • lymphatic malformations (including a cystic hygroma which occurs as a baby grows in the womb)

Vascular anomalies may also be associated with other problems that occur together as a group called a syndrome. The syndromes associated with vascular malformations in children include:

  • Gorham-Stout Disease (also called “disappearing bone disease”)
  • Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT syndrome)
  • Kasabach-Merritt Syndrome (also called Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon, a reduction of platelet levels)
  • Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome (port-wine stain, varicose veins and undeveloped lymph system)
  • Maffucci syndrome
  • Multifocal lymphangioendotheliomatosis with thrombocytopenia (MLT)
  • CLOVES syndrome
  • Parker-Weber syndrome
  • Sturge-Weber syndrome
  • Proteus syndrome (also known as Wiedemann syndrome)
  • PHACE syndrome (also called PHACE association)

The coordinated multidisciplinary vascular malformation programs at Nemours make it possible for your child to see specialists from areas such as otolaryngology, plastic surgery, dermatology and interventional radiology during a single visit. Our experts work together and with you to develop a treatment plan that cares for your child in the short and long term.

Symptoms of Vascular Malformations in Children

Vascular malformations are usually detected as a visible irregularity of the skin such as a birthmark or lump, an area of a different color or area that may be raised, swelling or bleeding. Sometimes, vascular lesions are hidden under the skin and noticed due to related symptoms such as pain, a tendency to bleed, difficulty breathing or heart problems.