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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Vascular Anomalies

One in ten children in this country is born with a vascular anomaly -- a birthmark or a growth made up of blood vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries and/or lymphatic vessels). Many of these congenital lesions require medical therapy, laser treatment and/or surgical intervention. Vascular anomalies include:

  • Hemangiomas, the most common type of birthmark or benign tumor of the skin. Hemangiomas are either present at birth or appear shortly after birth and grow rapidly. Most develop on the skin in the head or neck area.
  • Lymphatic, venous and arteriovenous malformations, named according to the type of blood vessel that is primarily affected. These birthmarks are often present at birth, although sometimes they are not apparent until later in life. They tend to grow with the child, although injuries and infections can make them temporarily swell.
  • Less common vascular malformations, arteriovenous malformations refer to the formation of channels between arteries and veins that can result in “fast-flow” lesions. Sometimes these can appear together with overlying vascular birthmarks.
  • Rare vascular tumors, which can form in the skin, bones, liver, lung and extremities. Most of these tumors are benign. In some cases they are treated with surgery, and in others they are responsive to medications.

» Read more about types of vascular anomalies.

Multidisciplinary Approach, Coordinated Care

Diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of vascular anomalies can be complex. In fact, these conditions often require the expertise of several types of pediatric specialists. That’s why we created the Vascular Anomalies Program — an integrated, multidisciplinary approach offering coordinated, compassionate care for infants, children and adolescents. Our team is committed to educating families and helping them manage these sometimes challenging conditions. » Learn more about the multidisciplinary team of experts in the Vascular Anomalies Program.

The Latest Therapies

The same physicians who provide care for patients with vascular anomalies are actively involved in basic and clinical research on these conditions. Our laboratory research, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), seeks to identify the mechanisms that underlie the development of hemangiomas and vascular malformations. Active involvement in clinical trials allows us to offer our patients the best available current treatments as well as access to up-and-coming therapies.

Second Opinions

We welcome the opportunity to provide a second opinion on the diagnosis and/or treatment plan for children with vascular anomalies. As a referral center for the Midwest, we also serve as a resource for pediatricians, dermatologists and surgeons looking for specialty evaluation and a multidisciplinary program.