A vascular malformation is just what it sounds like: an abnormal development in blood vessels. This can occur anywhere in your body and may involve arteries, veins, or capillaries. Vascular malformations can be either congenital (present at birth) or acquired (develop later in life).
Treating these issues requires a level of precision best provided by medical professionals with specialized vascular expertise, such as the interventional radiologists at Florida Endovascular and Interventional in South Florida.
Types of Vascular Malformations
Vascular malformations can be classified into the following types, each with its own characteristics and treatment options:
More commonly known as port-wine stains, this birthmark occurs due to dilated capillaries near the surface of the skin. Capillaries are tiny, branching blood vessels about as thin as a strand of hair. Port-wine stains are present at birth and will last into adulthood. The color typically darkens over time.
Capillary malformations do not require treatment, although some parents wish to treat the problem when it is especially noticeable (such as when it is on the face). Port-wine stains can be lightened with vascular laser treatments.
The most common type of malformation affects the veins – the blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Veins have thin walls and contain valves that help to keep blood flowing toward the heart instead of pooling in the limbs.
Venous malformations occur when veins are overstretched or enlarged. These malformations are most commonly found on the head and neck. Venous malformations may look like a bruise and can be painful. It can be especially problematic when located near a joint or nerve, causing pain or dysfunction. There is no cure for venous malformations, but these problems can be effectively treated, although periodic touch-ups may be necessary.
Treatment may include sclerotherapy, endovenous laser therapy (EVLT), or radiofrequency ablation (RFA), all of which can effectively shrink venous malformations. Repeat treatment may be necessary to achieve the desired results or when the malformations return over time. In some cases, surgery may be necessary after treatment to address excess skin or other deformities created by the malformation.
Although arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are rare – at least more so than the other types of vascular malformations – these abnormal tangles of arteries and veins can disrupt blood flow and require early treatment when possible. AVMs may rupture, leading to dangerous internal bleeding.
AVMs are typically present at birth or shortly thereafter. These malformations may be found in the arms, legs, or internal organs, although they are most often discovered in the brain, neck, or spine. Headaches and seizures are possible symptoms of an AVM, depending on its location and size.
Treatment of an AVM may include ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy or embolization, in which a catheter is guided to the problem area and used to shut down the affected blood vessels.
Vascular Malformation Treatment in South Florida
When blood vessels are malformed, the problem rarely shrinks or goes away on its own. If you’re looking for effective, minimally invasive treatment options for all types of vascular malformation, the vascular experts at Florida Endovascular and Interventional can help.