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A vascular malformation is an abnormal mass/growth of blood vessels that can occur anywhere in the body. Most common location is head and neck area followed by limbs and abdomen/chest wall. Uncommonly, vascular malformations are seen affecting abdominal organs and lungs.  These malformations are benign noncancerous masses.

Dr. Manish Taneja

Vascular Specialist, Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

Vascular Malformations, Hemangioma, And Treatment Options Explained

Peripheral vascular malformations are a group of abnormal growths in the blood vessels that affect blood flow. They can affect any age group and is seen even in young adults regardless of gender. It is estimated that 1% of the population is affected. The clinical presentation can be a simple lump and cause abnormal growth. These malformations can occur in any part of the body, ranging from simple birthmarks to complex life-threatening conditions. Vascular malformations are generally categorized into two types: vascular malformations and hemangiomas. This article discusses vascular malformations meaning types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for hemangioma in Singapore.

A male doctor talking to a female patient about the treatment for Vascular Malformations and Hemangioma

Types of Vascular Malformations

Vascular malformations are categorized into arteriovenous, venous, lymphatic, and capillary malformations.

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) occur when the arteries and veins are connected abnormally. These are usually large pulsating masses tending to more localised in nature. Read about our treatment options for AVM
  • Venous malformations (VMs) are caused by abnormal vein growth, whereas the abnormal growth of lymphatic vessels causes lymphatic malformations (LMs). VMs are abnormal enlargements of the wall of veins, appear as bluish or skin-coloured, soft lumps under the skin. These are usually more diffuse. LMs are usually localised skin-coloured soft tissue masses that are composed of abnormal lymphatic channels.
  • Hemangioma is a benign tumor of blood vessels. This is commonly known as  red birthmark on infants, which can be anywhere on the body (often on the face, scalp, back or chest).

Consider the types of treatment for vascular malformations our clinic provides. Read Dr. Manish Taneja’s clinical approach to treating vascular malformations in our other blog post, “Understanding Vascular Malformations: A Doctor’s Practical Approach“.

Vascular malformation causes originate from developmental abnormalities or genetic mutations in the 3rd month of pregnancy. They can also result from trauma, infection, or other environmental factors. Vascular malformation screening using MRI or CT scans can help identify the location and extent of the malformation. A biopsy may also be taken to provide an accurate vascular malformation diagnosis.

Clinical Presentation

Vascular malformations often manifest as soft tissue masses or lumps, accompanied by a range of symptoms. These may include the enlargement of the affected areas, bleeding, infections, or inflammation. As vascular malformations can occur in any part of the body, the specific presenting symptoms varies depending on the location affected by the condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vascular Malformations

Diagnosing vascular malformations usually involves a clinical examination by a doctor. The most effective scan for diagnosis is often an MRI scan, although some patients may need additional ultrasound or CT scans to help plan their treatment.

Treating vascular malformations can be complicated and usually involves a multidisciplinary approach. They usually need specialized treatment, which is most effectively provided by practitioners who have expertise in managing these conditions.

Some of the treatment options include:

  1. Medical management: Some of these lesions respond well to medication.
  2. Surgical excision: These can often recur rapidly especially after incomplete excision row again if not completely excised. Surgery can often be complex and disfiguring.
  3. Sclerotherapy: This is a interventional technique that is used to stop the growth of the malformation. Depending on the size and type of the malformation, multiple treatment sessions may be needed.
  4. Embolization: An interventional treatment used to block off blood flow to abnormal blood vessels without affecting the normal blood vessel.
  5. Laser treatment: Used more commonly for hemangioma that cause symptoms and do not resolve with medication or spontaneously. A significant number of hamangiomas resolve by the time a child reaches 6 years of age.
  6. Cryoablation

What Is Hemangioma?

Hemangioma is a type of vascular malformation characterized by an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs. Hemangiomas can be present at birth or can develop shortly after birth. These growths can be found anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the skin, liver, and brain.

Hemangioma Causes and Symptoms

The exact cause of hemangioma is still unknown. However, research has suggested that genetic factors may play a role in its formation. Vascular malformations can be asymptomatic or cause various symptoms depending on their location and size. Some common hemangioma symptoms include pain, swelling, bleeding, and raised or flat, red or purple lesions on the skin. Some patients may experience difficulty breathing and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Types of Hemangioma

Hemangiomas are classified into superficial hemangioma, deep hemangioma, mixed hemangioma, and infantile hemangioma. Superficial hemangiomas are located near the skin surface, whereas deep hemangiomas occur in the deeper tissues. Mixed hemangiomas have both superficial and deep components, and infantile hemangiomas are the most common type of hemangioma that occurs in infants.

Clinical Presentation of Hemangioma

Hemangiomas have a unique clinical presentation that depends on their location, size, and type. Superficial hemangiomas are often red and raised, whereas deep hemangiomas are bluish-purple and have a soft texture. Infantile hemangiomas may present as a red birthmark or a raised rubbery lump.

Treatment for Vascular Malformations and Hemangioma in babies
Treatment for Vascular Malformations and Hemangioma in adults

Hemangioma Diagnosis

Hemangiomas can be diagnosed through a physical exam, imaging tests, and biopsy. We use imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI to determine the location and size of the hemangioma.

Hemangioma Treatment

The treatment of hemangioma depends on the location, size, and type of growth. It is recommended to observe asymptomatic hemangiomas. But for larger, more problematic growths may require medication, laser therapy, or surgery. Medications such as beta-blockers slow down the growth of infantile hemangiomas.

Tip: If you’re unsure where to get treatment, Google keywords such as “Hemangioma hospital near me” or “Hemangioma doctor near me” to find Hemangioma hospitals in Singapore. When looking for a vascular malformations hospital in Singapore, utilize search terms such as “Vascular malformations doctor near me” or “Vascular malformations hospital near me.”

Vascular Malformations Final Thoughts

In conclusion, vascular malformations are abnormal formations of blood vessels that can occur throughout the body. These malformations can manifest in various ways, such as tangled clusters of blood vessels, enlarged vessels, or even dilated capillaries.

Unlike vascular tumors (hemangioma), malformations are considered developmental anomalies present from birth, although they may become more evident or worsen over time. They can affect different tissues and organs, leading to a wide range of symptoms and complications.

Diagnosis and management of vascular malformations require a comprehensive understanding of their clinical classification, including categories such as arteriovenous malformations, venous malformations, and lymphatic malformations. Each classification has unique treatment considerations. Timely and accurate diagnosis, followed by a tailored treatment approach, can significantly improve outcomes and enhance the quality of life for individuals with vascular malformations.

Get Proper Diagnosis and Treatment at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

Peripheral vascular malformations, particularly hemangioma, can have significant impacts on a patient’s quality of life. Early screening and diagnosis are crucial in managing the condition. If you’re experiencing vascular malformations symptoms or showing signs of hemangioma, it is important to seek medical attention from a vascular malformation specialist.

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is the premiere clinic in Singapore that specializes in vascular malformations options and your “go-to” facility for various vascular conditions and pain management. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our vascular specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation. We will be happy to advise you on the best cause of treatment and post-operative vascular malformations management.

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