Photographing a Vascular Anomaly | Vascular Anomalies Center

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To best evaluate you, your child or your patient for a vascular anomaly, we need to be able to see it. While a face-to-face visit is the preferred option, the next best thing is a high quality photograph of any visual lesions as well as of the face. Even if there are no visible lesions on the face, we still request a face photograph because we occasionally see patients with particular conditions who have specific facial features.

We recommend taking photos with a digital camera and emailing them directly to the Vascular Anomalies Center (vascular@childrens.harvard.edu). Please attach only 2 to 3 photos to each email message to ensure they reach our account.

Below we have provided tips for how to take the best possible photographs for evaluation.

General guidance

  • Color photos only. Black and white photos do not accurately represent vascular lesions.
  • Take the photo in a room with good lighting.
  • If possible, take the photo in front of a dark colored background, such as blue or green.
  • Avoid taking photos in front of a background with a lot of objects, such as wall pictures or paintings. You can use an unadorned wall, or hang non-pattered sheet or blanket to use as a background.
  • Take the photo with your camera held vertically (in "portrait" orientation).
  • Use you camera's macro mode setting to help with clarity and color. The setting appears as a flower icon on most cameras. Refer to your camera's instructions if you are not sure.
  • Remove any clothing or jewelry that may block or be in the photo with the lesion.
  • If a lesion fills up and becomes larger in certain positions (when the head is down or an arm is up, for example), please photograph the area both upright and held down so that we can see the difference.
  • Check all photographs on a computer before submitting them. If a photo is blurry when viewed full size on a monitor, please re-take it using a different camera setting.

Photographing the face, head and/or neck

  • Makes sure the photo includes the entire head from the top of the head to the base of the neck. Photographing the torso, abdomen and/or waist
  • For a lesion on the torso, make sure the photo includes from the base of the neck to the waist.
  • For a lesion below the waist, make sure the photo includes from the waist to the to the toes.
  • Depending on the lesion's location on the torso or waist, you should photograph the front, back, one or both sides or take photos of every part of the torso. 

Photographing the arms and/or legs

  • Please take photographs of both the affected arm or leg and the unaffected one, so that we can compare them. This applies both for visual lesions and for cases where one limb is larger than the other.
  • For a lesion on the arm, make sure the photo includes from the neck to the fingers. • Photograph lesions on the legs from the level of the legs, not looking down from above.
  • Take photographs from a distance to include both limbs, but then take individual photographs focused in on individual lesions themselves.
  • Take photographs from the front, back and sides, if appropriate, of the affected limbs to better show the lesions.
  • Photograph leg lesions from the side with the legs held apart and one leg in front of the other.

Photographing inside the mouth

  • Lesions inside the mouth should be photographed with the mouth open in good lighting. You may need to have someone hold a flashlight aimed into the mouth to get a good photograph.
  • Take close-up photos of the inside of the mouth.

Photographing the face

  • Please take both smiling and non-smiling photographs of the face. Please submit facial photos regardless of whether there are any visible lesions on the face. 

Photographing the hands and/or feet

  • If you, your child or your patient has unusual appear hands or feet, please include photos of them even if there are no visible lesions.
  • Photograph the hands with the fingers spread apart.
  • Photograph the feet with the toes relaxed.

Photographing genital lesions

  • We are very sensitive to issues of privacy. However, if you, your child or your patient has visible lesions on the genitals, it is important that you submit photographs of them so that we can understand the lesions and make an appropriate diagnosis.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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