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What is Venous Malformation?

Venous malformations (VMs) are non-cancerous growths caused due to abnormal development of the veins. They are commonly seen on the surface of the skin as a soft bluish discoloration but can also develop in the joints, muscles, gastrointestinal tract and other internal organs.

VMs can develop anytime during childhood, adolescence or adulthood but are commonly present at birth and may remain undiagnosed due to mild or painless symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Venous Malformation?

Venous malformations can be seen on the cheeks, mouth, scalp and neck and may vary in size from tiny dots to bigger lesions. Typical symptoms include pain, swelling, and difficulty speaking and breathing.

Diagnosis of Venous Malformation

Venous malformations are diagnosed through exploring medical history and a physical examination of the skin if the VM is external.

For internal VMs, ultrasound and imaging tests like X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans may be employed. These help to determine the size and location of the VM.

What is the Cause of Venous Malformation?

Venous malformations are caused due to genetic mutations during embryonic development, leading to improper formation of the veins.

Treatment Options for Venous Malformation

Treatment of a venous malformation depends on its size, location and the severity of symptoms.

Some VMs do not require treatment as they subside on their own. Others may be treated using any of the following approaches:

  • Medications: To minimize pain and swelling and prevent blood clots.
  • Use of elastic compression sleeves or stockings: To minimize swelling for VMs in the arms or legs.
  • Laser therapy: This involves directing a laser through a needle or catheter into the affected vein to treat large venous malformations.
  • Sclerotherapy: This procedure involves injection of a special medication into the VMs to shrink the abnormal veins and restore them to their normal width.
  • Venous Embolization: This involves introduction of a specific substance into the VMs to obstruct the blood flow and thereby shrink the size of the abnormal vein.
  • Surgical excision of the abnormal veins and the surrounding tissues.

What is the Long-Term Outlook for Children with Venous Malformations?

A venous malformation is a long-term (chronic) condition that stays with your child as they grow. VMs can also recur. Hence, even if your child has undergone sclerotherapy or surgery, they may be required to visit their doctor for periodic check-ups and treatments to prevent complications.

The length of treatment is based on the severity of your child’s symptoms. It is recommended to see your doctor as instructed and follow their instructions to help your child stay fit and happy.