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Vascular anomalies occur when arteries, veins, capillaries or lymph vessels do not develop properly. Some can be disfiguring, while others can present health risks in children. Many vascular anomalies are congenital (present at birth), but some may develop later in a child’s life.

What are the different types of vascular anomalies?

Vascular anomalies can be categorized into two main groups: vascular tumors and vascular malformations.

Infantile hemangiomas: Abnormal clusters of small blood vessels on or under a baby’s skin that appear one to three weeks after birth. They brighten in color and increase in size during the first two to four months of life and typically start to fade and shrink. Most do not cause complications and go away without treatment.

Congenital hemangiomas: A type of vascular lesion that is present and fully grown at birth.

Tufted angioma: A noncancerous tumor of the blood vessels that appears most often during infancy or early childhood.

Birthmarks: A colored mark on or under the skin. It can be present at birth or shortly after. They can be large or small and are most often harmless.

Pyogenic granulomas: Red, rapid-growing lesions that bleed easily. They most often occur after an injury and are noncancerous.

Hemangioendotheliomas: A rare, cancerous tumor that affects the epithelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels. These tumors most commonly affect the liver, lungs, bones and soft tissues.

Angiosarcoma: A type of cancer that occurs in the lining of blood and lymph vessels.

PTEN hamartoma: A group of disorders characterized by multiple hamartomas (noncancerous growths) that grow in different areas of the body.

Venus malformations: Bluish lesions that are caused by abnormally shaped veins. They can be small or large and will get bigger as a child grows, most notably during puberty. They do not go away and often recur after treatment. They can cause pain.

Lymphatic malformations: A sponge-like collection of abnormal lymphatic channels. They contain clear fluid or blood and can enlarge rapidly. They can occur anywhere in the body, but most often appear in the head and neck. They are related to other conditions, including:

  • Gorham-Stout disease: A type of lymphatic malformation that occurs in bones and partially destroys them.
  • Milroy disease: An inherited lymphedema, commonly occurring in the legs. It is present at birth.
  • Angiokeratoma: A group of skin lesions that are raised, dark red to black in color, and about 1 to 10 millimeters in size. Because these lesions often bleed spontaneously or following an abrasion, treatment may be required to control bleeding.

Arteriovenous malformations (AVM): Abnormal connections between arteries and veins. They are commonly seen on the head and neck and often appear as light stains at birth. Other AVMs, commonly seen on the trunk or a limb, may not be seen until later in childhood. AVMs may also occur in the skin, fat, muscles and organs, such as the brain, lung, liver and intestines.

Capillary malformations: A flat, reddish-pink birthmark on the skin. It is also called a port wine stain.

Primary lymphedema: An abnormal buildup of lymph fluid in tissue that causes swelling of the arms and legs.

Fibro-adipose vascular anomaly (FAVA): A rare, painful condition in which a mass develops inside a portion of a muscle in one of a child’s limbs.

Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT): A rare genetic disorder that happens when capillaries do not form properly. It can cause blood vessels to burst and bleed.

Congenital lipomatous overgrowth, vascular malformations, epidermal nevi, and spinal/skeletal anomalies or scoliosis (CLOVES) syndrome: A rare genetic disorder that involves abnormalities of the blood vessels, skin, spine, bone and/or joints.

Posterior fossa anomalies, hemangioma, arterial anomalies, cardiac anomalies and eye anomalies (PHACE) syndrome: A large hemangioma, typically on the neck or face, in conjunction with one or more birth defects.

Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome (KTS): A rare congenital disorder that usually affects the arms or legs. Signs may include a port wine stain, swollen or malformed veins, a limb that is larger or smaller than the other, and other bone and skin problems.

Parkes-Weber syndrome: A rare genetic condition that is characterized by many abnormal blood vessels. It can lead to heart failure.

PIK3CA-related overgrowth syndrome (PROS): A group of rare disorders caused by mutations in the PIK3CA gene that result in tissue overgrowth.

Proteus syndrome: A condition that causes an abnormal growth of the bones, skin and head.

Blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome (BRBNS): A rare congenital vascular anomaly that most commonly affects the bowel. Dark blue, spongy skin lesions often appear at birth or early childhood.

Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome (BRRS): A rare genetic overgrowth syndrome that typically appears in childhood. It can cause a large head, polyps in the intestines, fatty tumors, hemangiomas and thyroid problems.

Maffucci syndrome: A rare genetic disorder that causes bone deformities, hemangiomas or cartilage overgrowth.

Gorham-Stout disease (GSD): A rare bone disorder that causes bone loss. The cause is unknown.

Generalized lymphatic anomaly: A rare condition that causes an abnormal overgrowth of lymphatic vessels in the lungs, membranes around the lungs, bones and soft tissue.

Kaposiform lymphatic anomaly (KLA): A rare condition that causes abnormal lymphatic vessels to damage surrounding tissue, bones and organs.

For children with vascular anomalies, the number of facilities capable of providing coordinated care with comprehensive treatment is limited. The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Vascular Anomalies Clinic combines the expertise and resources from across our healthcare system to offer children the effective, coordinated care they need. We care for more than 500 new patients every year and serve as a national referral center for children who might otherwise not have access to specialized care.

Our pediatric-trained specialists work together to provide accurate diagnoses (which can be difficult for these complex conditions), individualized treatment plans and ongoing care for children with vascular anomalies.

Our Vascular Anomalies Clinic offers:

  • Medications to control blood vessel growth
  • Image-guided sclerotherapy to shrink lesions
  • Surgery to remove tumors or lesions
  • Laser therapy
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Clinical trials

The following resources provide you with additional information on specific types of vascular anomalies, including what the conditions are, current research, frequently asked questions, support groups and more.

Children's offers one of the largest multidisciplinary teams in the country. Our Vascular Anomalies Clinic includes providers and consultative services from 16 different pediatric specialties. Led by Dr. Matthew Hawkins, Pediatric Interventional Radiologist and Medical Director of the Vascular Anomalies Clinic, each one of our providers has knowledge and expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric vascular anomalies.

Core team providers

Consultative services

Our Vascular Anomalies Clinic is location on the sixth floor of the Center for Advanced Pediatrics.

Center for Advanced Pediatrics
1400 Tullie Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329