Vascular anomalies occur when abnormal amounts of blood or lymphatic vessels develop in any part of the body. There are many types of vascular anomalies, including lymphangiomas, lymphoedema, arteriovenous malformations, haemangiomas, Klippel-Trenaunay Weber syndrome, and many others. The cause of these anomalies is still largely unknown.
Vascular anomalies may be evident at birth, or soon after. Some grow rapidly in the first year of life, then often partly or completely disappear. Others are unchanged throughout life. A detailed assessment and investigation of your child’s condition will be conducted when a child is thought to have a vascular anomaly. This may include photographic records and medical imaging when appropriate.
What is the treatment?
Options for managing vascular anomalies can include:
Compression therapy involves applying pressure from the outside onto the affected limb. This is done through a custom-made compression garment. Compressing the affected limb assists dilated vessels to work more effectively by encouraging blood flow, reducing pain and reducing swelling.
Your child may initially dislike the garment and find it uncomfortable. However, many children soon realise that the compression assists in reducing discomfort and become accustomed to wearing the garment. Your OT can help you in adjusting your child to compression therapy.
Regularly applying bandages to limbs can help to reduce swelling associated with some vascular anomalies.
Surgical intervention is also an option when dealing with a vascular anomaly. This consists of the excision (removal) of the vascular anomaly. This means your child will undergo a general anaesthetic. Sometimes a combination of surgery and interventional radiology will be used.
A small dose of safe oral medication may shrink or slow early growth for some vascular anomalies.
A radiologist can inject an irritant into a blood vessel or lymph vessel, causing a reaction which blocks and shrinks the anomaly.
Cosmetic companies offer individual skin colour matching cover for some vascular anomalies. These can be applied like make-up and can last for several days.
Care at home
There are a few small steps you can take at home to help relieve your child’s symptoms:
- Assist your child to complete their prescribed therapy regimen
- Assist your child in taking appropriate care of their affected area. The area should be kept clean and well moisturised
- Encourage your child to participate in activities where possible, to encourage growth and development and fun
Burns Outpatients (5e)
Level 5, Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 2830 (business hours)
t: 07 3068 1111 (hospital switchboard)
In an emergency, always call 000.
If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.