Find A Physician

Return to Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations Overview

More on Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations

Hospital News

Return to Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations Overview

More on Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations

Health Library

Return to Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations Overview

More on Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations

Research and Clinical Trials

Return to Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations Overview

More on Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations

Clinical Services

Return to Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations Overview

More on Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations

Embolization of Vascular Birthmarks and Malformations

There are two types of congenital vascular birthmarks: hemangiomas and vascular malformations. The two types are different in their development, appearance, and treatment, although they often are confused in diagnosis.

Hemangiomas are the most common benign tumors found in infants, affecting up to 400,000 babies each year in the United States. They are significantly more common in females and premature children, and while they most often occur on the head, neck, and face, they can occur anywhere, including inside internal organs. A hemangioma can take a wide range of forms, from a tiny discoloration that has no other effects to a tomato-sized tumor that can cause functional impairment. In addition, hemangiomas develop in a distinct way. They may or may not be present at birth, but they grow rapidly, usually until about six months of age. Then, usually after the first year, the hemangiomas go through a process of regression, called involution, that can last from 18 months to 12 years. During this period, the tumors shrink and become lighter in color. Some disappear completely, while others can leave anything from a minor red mark or scar to a major residual deformity that requires surgical correction.

The other kind of vascular birthmark is called a vascular malformation. A vascular malformation is an abnormal collection or tangle of blood vessels that usually is congenital. Much more rare than hemangiomas, vascular malformations come in several types. Capillary malformations, for example, may result only in a discoloration, known as a port-wine stain birthmark. Other malformations, such as venous or arteriovenous malformations, may be bigger, more protruding, and more extensive. The most important distinction between vascular malformations and hemangiomas is that vascular malformations do not shrink or disappear over time.

Many vascular birthmarks are not injurious, so physicians will wait to treat them, especially in the case of hemangiomas. Some vascular birthmarks, however, can be large or located in a sensitive area and may cause bleeding, growth changes, or serious impairments in function, such as problems with vision. In these cases, early intervention is necessary.

Assessment

Vascular birthmarks are evaluated with full physical examinations. In patients with serious problems, angiography, which provides images of blood flow, and other imaging techniques will be used.

Treatment

Treatment for vascular birthmarks includes topical steroid medications, embolization, laser coagulation, surgery to remove the birthmark, or combination treatment. Embolization involves the injection of an agent that causes scarring to remove the blood vessels from circulation. Embolization is a very important treatment, both alone and in combination with surgery for the treatment of arteriovenous malformations. A clot or other structure that blocks a blood vessel is called an embolus, and the creation of an embolus for therapeutic reasons is called embolization. Like other interventional neuroradiological procedures, embolization involves the insertion of a catheter, or tube, through an artery in the groin. The tube is guided up through the blood vessels to the site of the malformation, where it delivers a liquid embolic agent similar to glue that embolizes, or clogs up, the vascular malformation to restore normal circulation. Embolization may be used in conjunction with microsurgical resection; once all or part of the vascular malformation has been removed from circulation, its resection becomes significantly easier. Embolization is an important step in the treatment of vascular malformations in particular. These birthmarks will return if they are not completely resected or destroyed; preoperative embolization increases the likelihood of complete resection.

  • Bookmark
  • Print

    Find a Doctor

Click the button above or call
1 877 NYP WELL


eNewsletters

Clinical Services


Top of page