KidsMD Health Topics

Tufted Angioma in Children

  • Are you concerned about a birthmark on your child? Birthmarks are common in infants, and many of them go away on their own or only need to be addressed cosmetically. However, some birthmarks are caused by tumors in the cells of your child’s blood vessels. These are more serious and need to be monitored and, in some cases, treated.

    A tufted angioma is one of these kinds of tumors. Fortunately, it's very rare and it's benign (non-cancerous).

    Here’s what you need to know about tufted angioma:

    • Tufted angioma is not cancer. While we refer to tufted angioma as a tumor, it’s a benign tumor, which means it doesn't metastasize and spread to other locations in your child’s body. “Tumor” simply means abnormal growth.
    • It’s treatable. Our doctors use different medications to stop the growth of the tumor and increase your child’s platelet count. 
    • Tufted angioma is not associated with regular infantile hemangiomas, although it’s sometimes misdiagnosed as a hemangioma.
    • It’s sometimes accompanied by a potentially serious condition with bleeding risk called Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon, which occurs when the tumor traps and destroys platelets in your child’s blood. Although given that tufted angioma is a fairly low-grade tumor, there’s no certainty that your child will experience Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon.

    How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches tufted angioma

    Because tufted angioma is so rare, very few doctors can effectively diagnose and treat it.

    Here at Boston Children’s Vascular Anomalies Center, we have the world’s largest database of patients with vascular anomalies, including many tufted angioma cases. When doctors anywhere in the world have questions about whether a child’s birthmark may be tufted angioma and what to do about it, they often call us. Our physicians have evaluated more children with tufted angioma than any other hospital in the world.

    Additionally, we approach each patient with decades of experience involving multiple disciplines, including surgery, plastic surgery, hematology-oncology, dermatology and interventional radiology. In additional to caring for patients with tufted angioma here in Boston, we advise families and referring physicians from around the world regarding the diagnosis and treatment of tufted angioma.

    The database

    Boston Children’s Vascular Anomalies Center has the largest database in the world of children who have experienced Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon — currently more than 125 cases of vascular anomalies with KMP. As our database grows, it will help shine more light on this rare and often misunderstood condition.

    A parent's perspective

    "Our son, Jack, had just turned 1 and needed your services for an issue he was having with his hip. During our few visits to Boston Children's Hospital, my wife and I were exposed to a whole new world." Read about a family’s experience here at Children’s.

    Tufted angioma: Reviewed by Cameron C. Trenor III, MD,
    © Boston Children's Hospital, 2010

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