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Diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of vascular anomalies can be complex. These conditions often require the expertise of several types of pediatric specialists. That’s why we created the Vascular Anomalies Program — an integrated, multidisciplinary approach offering coordinated, compassionate care for infants, children and adolescents.
One in 10 children in this country is born with a vascular anomaly — a birthmark or a growth made up of blood vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries and/or lymphatic vessels). Many of these growths require medical therapy, laser treatment and/or surgery.
At the UChicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, an integrated multidisciplinary team of experts works together to evaluate patients and coordinate treatments for vascular anomalies.
Diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of vascular anomalies can be complex. In fact, these conditions often require the expertise of several types of pediatric specialists. That’s why we created the Vascular Anomalies Program — an integrated, multidisciplinary approach offering coordinated, compassionate care for infants, children and adolescents. Our team is committed to educating families and helping them manage these sometimes challenging conditions.
The same physicians who provide care for patients with vascular anomalies are actively involved in basic and clinical research on these conditions. Our laboratory research, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), seeks to identify the mechanisms that underlie the development of hemangiomas and vascular malformations. Active involvement in clinical trials allows us to offer our patients the best available current treatments, as well as access to up-and-coming therapies.
We welcome the opportunity to provide a second opinion on the diagnosis and/or treatment plan for children with vascular anomalies. As a referral center for the Midwest, we also serve as a resource for pediatricians, dermatologists and surgeons looking for specialty evaluation and a multidisciplinary program.
Vascular anomalies are birthmarks composed of blood vessels (arteries, veins, lymphatic vessels and/or capillaries) that have developed abnormally. These lesions (abnormal areas of tissue on the body) are classified as hemangiomas, vascular malformations and rare vascular tumors.
Hemangiomas, the most common type of birthmark or benign tumor of the skin, are either present at birth or appear shortly after birth and grow rapidly. Most develop on the skin in the head or neck area.
Hemangiomas are sometimes not visible at birth or appear as faint red marks. However, within a few weeks, they start to grow rapidly. Over time, some hemangiomas lighten and become smaller (involute).
Rare vascular tumors, which can form in the skin, bones, liver, lung and extremities, are usually benign.
In some cases they are treated with surgery and in others they are responsive to medications. Fortunately, malignant (cancerous) vascular tumors that can spread to other parts of the body are rare in childhood.
Vascular malformations are visible at birth and grow slowly in proportion to the child’s growth. They do not involute (shrink and lighten in color) and may become more noticeable over time.
Lymphatic, venous and arteriovenous malformations are named according to the type of blood vessel that is primarily affected. These birthmarks are often present at birth, although sometimes they are not apparent until later in life. They tend to grow with the child, although injuries and infections can make them temporarily swell.
Less common vascular malformations, arteriovenous malformations, refer to the formation of channels between arteries and veins that can result in “fast-flow” lesions. Sometimes these can appear together with overlying vascular birthmarks.