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It can be hard to find accurate information about venous malformations (VMs) because they’re relatively rare. Here at Children’s Hospital Boston, we understand VMs — and we know when and how to treat them. Read on for information about VMs, and when you meet with our experts, we can explain your child’s condition and treatment options in detail.
What’s a VM?
A VM is a bluish lesion that’s the result of improperly formed veins. The walls of these veins are unusually thin because of a relative lack of smooth muscle cells — and that’s why they can stretch and cause problems.
How common are they?
They’re pretty rare, although they are the most common type of vascular malformation we treat at our Vascular Anomalies Center.
When does a VM appear?
VMs can appear anytime during childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Most are present at birth, though they may not be diagnosed until later— especially if your child’s lesion is small or not in an obvious location.
Where do VMs occur?
They’re most common in the skin, but can be present in other tissues and organs as well.
What are the most common complications of VMs?
Some possible complications include:
Are there other kinds of VMs?
Yes. There are also rare sub-types of vascular malformations, which make up approximately 10 percent of all VMs. Some of these rare VMs include:
VMs are caused by genetic mutations during the embryonic stage of life. No known food, medication or activity during pregnancy can cause a VM.
Often, venous malformations can be misdiagnosed by your child’s primary physician, simply because they’re not that common.
What are the common signs of all VMs?
VMs have three characteristic signs. They are typically:
A venous malformation can range from a very small lesion in one spot on your child’s body to a widespread lesion that also affects the underlying tissue, muscles and bones.
What symptoms will my child have?
VMs affect kids differently depending on how large the malformation is and where it’s located. Here are some of the more common symptoms of VMs:
What is the long-term outlook for my child?
Because there’s no cure for a venous malformation, we focus on managing your child’s symptoms.
The long-term outlook for your child depends on a few factors:
Every child is unique and your care team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that works for your family.
Will my child’s VM get better?
No. A VM is a chronic condition, which means that it will stay with your child as he grows. That said, many kids — especially those with mild VMs — live normal, healthy lives.
What do we do after treatment is over?
Depending on the severity of your child’s condition, your doctor may recommend a series of follow-up visits to check for complications and make sure that we’re managing your child’s VM effectively. A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following:
Q: What’s a venous malformation?
A: A VM is a bluish lesion that’s the result of improperly formed veins.
Q: How common are they?
A: They’re pretty rare, although they are the most common type of vascular malformation we treat at our Vascular Anomalies Center.
Q: What are the common signs of VMs?|
A: VMs affect children differently, but often have three characteristic signs. Typically, they’re:
You or your child may also notice:
Q: What are the most common complications of VMs?
A: Some possible complications include the following:
Q: How is a VM diagnosed?
A: In many cases, a simple physical exam gives your doctor enough information to diagnose a VM. If there’s any doubt, your doctor may recommend an MRI, ultrasound or a CT scan. For more information, see the Diagnosis section.
Q: How is a VM treated?
A: In some kids, a VM doesn’t result in any health problems. We only recommend treating your child’s VM if the malformation is doing any of the following:
For more information, see the Treatment & Care section.
Q: What is the long-term outlook for my child?
A: Because there’s no cure for a venous malformation, we focus on managing your child’s symptoms. Every child is unique and your care team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that works for your family.
Q: Will my child’s VM get better?
A: No. A VM is a chronic condition, which means that it will stay with your child as he grows. That said, many kids — especially those with mild VMs — live normal, healthy lives.
Q: What makes Children’s different?
A: We’re home to the first and largest vascular anomalies center in the world.
When doctors in other states or other countries need help diagnosing or treating children with vascular anomalies such as venous malformations, they often come to us.
After your child is diagnosed with VMs, you may feel overwhelmed with information. It can be easy to lose track of the questions that occur to you.
Lots of parents find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise – that way, when you talk to your child’s doctors, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.
If your child is old enough, you may want to suggest that she write down what she wants to ask her health care provider, too. Some of the questions you may want to ask include:
Read about a girl from Venezuela with a VM who was treated at Children’s.
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.”