The vascular system is the body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart. Vascular abnormalities may also impact the body's lymph system, are the small canals that lie near blood vessels and help carry tissue fluids from within the body to the lymph nodes and then back to the bloodstream.
Below is a list of the most common vascular disorders seen in children waiting for forever families. We provide the following information for reference purposes only and cannot attest to the accuracy of the information. We highly recommend speaking with an experienced physician for further details on each condition.
Common Vascular Conditions
Strawberry hemangiomas are bright red, raised areas that develop soon after birth and enlarge slowly during the first several months of life. Most of them completely disappear by seven years of age, but some leave a brownish wrinkled area. Cavernous hemangiomas are raised red to purplish areas and are made up of enlarged blood vessels that are present at birth. They sometimes become sore and bleed. They usually require treatment and rarely disappear completely without it.
Doctors still do not know what causes the blood vessels to group together, although there may be a hereditary component involved.
The first step for treatment is often simple observation. Doctors may watch the mark over several months to determine if it is growing rapidly or staying the same. Most strawberry hemangiomas do not need treatment unless they interfere with normal eating, breathing or seeing. Surgery is not usually required.
There are several treatment options for cavernous hemangiomas. Steroid injections may help slow the growth. Laser treatments are also used to slow the growth or treat redness. Surgery is sometimes needed to totally remove the hemangioma.
Lymphedema is a collection of fluid that causes swelling (edema) in the arms and legs. Symptoms include swelling of the arms or legs, restricted motion, pain, or hardening of the skin on the arms and legs.
The lymphatic system carries lymph fluid throughout the body, collecting bacteria, viruses and waste products. The wastes are filtered through the lymph nodes and flushed out of the body. Lymphedema occurs when the lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg. It can occur sporadically (primary) or be caused by another condition (secondary). Secondary lymphedema is far more common than primary lymphedema.
Secondary lymphedema can be caused by cancer or infection. It can also be a side effect from surgery or radiation therapy.
There is no cure for lymphedema. Treatment focuses on reducing the swelling and controlling the pain and may include exercise, compression garments or massage. Severe cases may require surgery to reduce excess tissue on the limb.
- Port Wine Stain
With port wine stain, clusters of blood vessels in the skin cause light pink to dark red spots on the skin. The color may darken over time and get a rough surface appearance. Port wine stains occur in about 3 out of 1,000 people.
Neurologic problems can be present when port-wine stain is associated with a disorder such as Sturge-Weber syndrome.
Treatment is not necessary in most cases. The color and roughness of the mark can be lightened by laser treatments from a dermatologist in some cases. Children with birthmarks including the eyelid should be seen by a doctor as this may indicate other problems or obstruct the sight from that eye.