Venous Malformation

What is a venous malformation?

A venous malformation (VM) is a bluish lesion caused by widened, abnormally shaped veins. While rare, VMs are the most common kind of vascular malformation treated at the Boston Children's Hospital's Vascular Anomalies Center.

The blood vessel walls in a venous malformation are unusually thin and have relatively little smooth muscle around them, allowing them to stretch abnormally. A VM can be large or small and can enlarge as a child grows older.

Children can have multiple VMs and may experience a wide range of symptoms based on where the malformation occurs and its size. A child may have just an isolated VM or have them as part of an underlying condition. VMs do not go away on their own and often recur after treatment.

Are there different types of venous malformations?

There are also rare sub-types of venous malformations, which make up approximately 10 percent of all VMs such as:

  • Glomuvenous malformation (GVM): Glomus cells are smooth muscle cells that are believed to regulate blood flow. Glomus cells in GVMs are shaped abnormally.
  • Cerebral-cavernous malformation (CCM): CCM is a familial disorder characterized by the formation of multiple VMs in the brain. These lesions often bleed and expand. About 10 percent of kids with this disorder develop skin VMs.
  • Blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome (BRBNS): Children with BRBNS typically have multiple VMs of the skin and internal organs.
  • Maffucci syndrome: Children with this condition have multiple benign bone tumors (enchondromas) and VM-like lesions of the skin.

How we care for venous malformations

The Vascular Anomalies Center at Boston Children's takes an interdisciplinary approach to care of children with venous malformations, whether the child is initially reviewed at our conference or seen in clinic. On your first visit to clinic, several VAC specialists will often review your child's case at the same time. Our experience in treating over 2000 patients with venous malformations gives us the depth of knowledge to ensure you have an accurate diagnosis.