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Houston Cranio Facial

Venous Malformations

What is a Venous Malformation?

Venous Malformations (VM) are present at birth and are an abnormal collection of veins that have formed a tangled web in a localized area. This type of slow-flow vascular malformation can cause the skin overlying the mass to typically be bluish in color. The mass is often soft and compressible. When the mass is positioned below the level of the heart it will begin to swell or enlarge. Sometimes it can become painful especially in the early morning. Clots can form in the venous malformations usually after about 2 years old. These clots can be a source of pain. Venous malformations can continue to grow with the child and during puberty can enlarge even more than its previous size.

What tests can be done to confirm the diagnosis of Venous Malformation?

An MRI is the most effective imaging study to confirm venous malformations. If the VM is very large, then blood clotting studies should be performed.

What are the treatment options for Venous Malformations?

Treatment is usually reserved for venous malformations that cause deformities or loss of function. Sclerotherapy has been used to cause the VM to shrink in size. Either ethanol or sodium tetradecyl sulfate is used to cause the sclerosing of the vessels. Typically this treatment is performed by an interventional radiologist experienced in this type of therapy. After the mass has reduced in size, surgical excision is performed to remove the remaining portions of the mass.

The use of low-dose aspirin can help with the symptoms of blood clots in the venous malformations. In addition to aspirin, support stockings can also compress the venous malformation to provide comfort.