What is a venous malformation?

A venous malformation is a disorganized growth of veins, the blood vessels which normally return blood to the heart. Frequently, venous malformations can be diagnosed clinically because of characteristic features: bluish color, soft texture, and compressible nature. Venous malformations generally decrease in size when elevated and enlarge when placed in a gravity dependent position.

What should I expect to happen with a venous malformation?

Venous malformations frequently cause cosmetic and functional problems. Venous malformations frequently slowly expand over time and can infiltrate underlying muscles and bones. Venous malformations on the head and neck can cause facial disfigurement as well as problems with vision and breathing. Venous malformations on the chest, back, and extremities are frequently associated with painful episodes, which are due to coagulation of blood forming a thrombus, which eventually develops into a rock-hard calcification referred to as a “phlebolith.” When significant coagulation occurs within a venous malformation, this can lead to bleeding problems in other parts of the body due to a deficiency of clotting factors.

How is a venous malformation diagnosed?

Because of characteristic features, a venous malformation can oftentimes be diagnosed clinically, however imaging studies are frequently needed to determine the extent of involvement. Ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs are frequently used to determine depth and degree of involvement.

How is a venous malformation treated?

Specific treatment of venous malformation will be determined by your child’s doctor based on:

  • Your child’s age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your child’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Observation of the malformation (to watch for growth or changes)
  • Compression therapy or compression garments
  • Sclerotherapy (injection of medicine into the venous malformation to induce shrinkage)
  • Surgery (to remove or debulk the venous malformation)
  • Medical therapy (including aspirin, heparin, sildenafil, and/or sirolimus)