Venous Malformation Testing and Diagnosis in Children

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Contact the Vascular Anomalies Center


The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis. Diagnosing a venous malformation (VM) can be difficult for many physicians simply because it’s not a common condition.

The specialists at the Vascular Anomalies Center at Boston Children’s Hospital can easily identify a VM — and begin treatment to help your child get better.

Should we talk to a vascular anomalies specialist?

In certain cases, yes. You should definitely get in touch with a specialist if any of the following criteria apply to your child's VM:

  • It’s in a critical location, such as around her eye, face or neck.
  • It involves her hands, feet or an internal organ, such as the gastrointestinal tract, liver or brain.

How is a VM diagnosed?

We’ll start with a complete medical history and a thorough physical exam. In many cases, that initial exam gives us enough information to diagnose a VM. If there’s any doubt, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following imaging tests, which can help determine the correct diagnosis and the appropriate next steps in treatment:

  • ultrasound (also called ultrasonography) — An ultrasound helps your doctor see your child’s venous system to examine abnormalities.
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — This high-resolution scan can confirm the diagnosis, and allow your doctor to determine the size of the malformation and plan the next steps in treatment.
  • computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) – Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to examine a VM that’s affecting your child’s bones.

After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

Keep family and friends up to date during your child’s treatment by creating a free Boston Children’s CarePage.
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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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