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Recent advances in imaging, interventional radiology, and genetics have greatly improved our ability to properly diagnose and effectively treat both children and adults suffering from vascular anomalies.
Vascular anomalies are defects in the size, structure and functioning of veins, lymph vessels, arteries or capillaries, either singly or in combination. Vascular anomalies may be discovered in the fetal stage, a few weeks or years after birth, or in adulthood. Some are superficial and may eventually heal on their own, but others can become disabling, painful and dangerous. They can occur anywhere in the body, in one or more organs and systems.
Traditionally, surgery was used to treat most large vascular anomalies; this could be traumatic, have complications and end in recurrence. In the past few years, many new approaches have been developed in different fields, some relying on interventional radiology (IR) techniques such as freezing, sclerosing, heating, embolizing and otherwise destroying errant blood or lymph vessels without invasive surgery. Other novel approaches are based on the genetics underlying vascular anomalies; these are increasingly effective, either as primary therapy or in conjunction with IR and/or surgery.
Some treatments, for example, use medications to shrink vascular anomalies. These are used widely in our clinic under the guidance of hematologist-oncologists on the team. Laser surgery can also be very effective in improving the skin’s appearance and reducing complications such as pain and bleeding. Surgical resection and debulking are usually performed by our surgeons based on their area of expertise.
Stanford Medicine Children’s Health’s team of vascular anomaly experts includes dermatologists, surgeons (otolaryngologists, plastic surgeons and general surgeons), radiologists, interventional radiologists, hematologists, oncologists, pathologists and geneticists.
In most cases, specialists from different fields work closely together, either in stages (shrinking the lesion first with medications and then treating it surgically, for example) or in single, multi-step, multi-modal procedures that may involve several specialties such as IR, dermatology, oncology and surgery.
Together, we access all the latest advances in knowledge and technology to give patients the most complete diagnosis, assess their treatment options and create the best possible personalized, long-term treatment plan.