Venous Malformations

Venous malformations are the most common of all vascular anomalies. They are clusters of unnecessary veins that are filled with blood but not used by the body. They are blue in color, soft and capable of being squeezed into a smaller area (compressible). They are present at birth but may not be immediately obvious.

One percent to four percent of the population have venous malformations.

Causes and Risk Factors

Venous malformations are caused by genetic mutations during the embryonic stage of life.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms may include:

  • A blue or purple mass, typically located on the face, limbs or trunk. They can also be found in internal organs and bones.
  • Their size grows as the child grows.
  • They may grow bigger during adolescence.
  • They may grow bigger following trauma or infection.

Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis and tests may consist of:

  • Physical examination
  • Ultrasonography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • CT scan
  • Endoscopy: a procedure used to examine the digestive tract by using a flexible tube with a light and a camera.
  • Angiogram: an imaging test in which a special dye is injected into a vein or an artery through a thin, flexible tube. The dye enables the doctor to see inside the artery or vein.

Treatment and Care

Treatment may consist of:

  • Sclerotherapy: This treatment involves injecting a solution directly into the venous mass to make it shrink.
  • Compression garments to help slow growth and help with pain in affected limbs
  • Medicine
  • Surgery

In venous malformations that form blood clots:

  • Venous malformations that consist of massively dilated veins may cause blood to pool and stagnate, resulting in blood clot formation. These blood clots can become inflamed and painful. When this occurs, it is called "thrombophlebitis." Treatment centers on using warm compresses, elevating the limb and taking anti-inflammatory medication.

Living and Managing

Having a venous malformation is a chronic condition. That means it stays with children as they grow. It is important to consider having your child treated by a doctor who specializes in blood vessel disorders. The doctor will put together a treatment plan.

In children whose lesions are highly visible, treatment with a mental health counselor may be recommended to deal with emotional issues.

Related Topics

Some venous malformations may be linked to a group of problems called a syndrome. Some of the syndromes linked to venous malformation include:

  • Blue Rubber Bleb Nevus syndrome
  • Maffucci syndrome