Sturge-Weber Syndrome | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is Sturge-Weber syndrome diagnosed?

The clinician will examine your child’s birthmark and do a complete exam. He or she may also order one of the following tests:

How is Sturge-Weber syndrome treated?

Sturge-Weber is a lifelong condition that can't be cured. However, treatment of symptoms can help prevent complications and improve your child's quality of life.

  • Seizures: In many cases, seizures can be controlled with anti-seizure medications. In very severe cases, seizures may need to be treated with vagus nerve stimulation implants or neurosurgery. The surgery involves removing all or almost all of one side of the brain at the origin of seizure activity. Because a child's brain is "plastic," the remaining portion is able to take over most of the functions of the missing side. This surgery is recommended for only a small subset of patients and is not necessary for most cases of Sturge-Weber syndrome.
  • Glaucoma: Eye drops or oral medications are both used to control glaucoma by decreasing the amount of excessive fluid within the eye. In more serious cases, surgery may be needed to improve fluid flow. If your child has SWS, but does not have glaucoma, he or she should still be followed regularly to check for glaucoma and amblyopia (also called “lazy eye”).
  • Port wine birthmark: Laser treatment is available for children as young as 1 month of age to lighten the birthmark. The laser is "tuned" to a specific wavelength of light and produces a bright light that is absorbed by blood vessels. The abnormal blood vessels are destroyed without damaging the surrounding skin. Many treatment sessions are often required to lighten or completely remove the birthmark.
  • Treatment for other symptoms: Depending on your child’s needs, he or she may also need other types of treatment. Other treatment options may include physical therapy for muscle weakness or behavioral and educational therapy for developmental delays.