How to Select a Physician
If your child has a vascular anomaly, it is important that his or her care be provided by a physician who is experienced in the management of these disorders.
If your child has a small, single hemangioma that is not likely to require any intervention, your pediatrician may be able to monitor the tumor, provide support and reassurance, and contact a vascular anomalies specialist if the situation warrants.
You should seek out a vascular anomalies specialist if your pediatrician has little or no experience with vascular anomalies, the diagnosis is unclear, or your child's vascular disorder is complex. Ideally, this specialist will be part of an interdisciplinary team whose primary or sole focus is the diagnosis and treatment of vascular anomalies.
Generally speaking, vascular anomalies teams are located in major pediatric teaching hospitals, such as Boston Children's Hospital.
An interdisciplinary approach to the care of children with complex vascular anomalies is especially important. This means that your child should be cared for by several specialists who have different areas of medical expertise. Because vascular anomalies often affect many organ systems, they require the combined expertise of many specialists working together to achieve the best possible results.
Vascular anomalies teams vary from one institution to the next, but usually include general and plastic surgeons, interventional radiologists, dermatologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists, and other pediatric subspecialists as well.
To find a hospital that has a vascular anomalies team, ask your pediatrician, contact the nearest major pediatric teaching hospital or contact Boston Children's Hospital for an appointment.
Questions You Should Ask
Here are some questions you should ask before deciding where your child will receive care:
Do you use a team approach?
If so, what specialists participate in the evaluation?
Do you meet regularly as a team to discuss each patient's care?
How much experience do you/the team have in evaluating and treating vascular anomalies?
How many patients with vascular anomalies do you/the team treat every year?
How many individuals have you/your team cared for with my child's specific condition? Who will be our primary contact throughout our child's treatment? Will this person be readily available to us when we want information?
These questions should help you evaluate a vascular anomalies specialist/team that can provide your child with the best possible care. But you will undoubtedly have other questions, and should not hesitate to ask for any information you need before making this important decision.