The Vascular Anomalies

What is a vascular anomaly? 

 
We can talk of vascular anomalies to represent two types of pathologies. On the one side, benign tumours which affect the endothelial celules which cover up the vascular tissue, these are the commonly referred as hemangiomas. On the other side, it can be any malformation affecting the vascular system. 
 
Vascular anomalies are congenital and research has shown that they often are triggered by a genetical disorder. However, they are very rarely hereditary. 
 
Vascular malformations can be localized or diffuse, and can be disseminated over multiple parts of the body or various organs. Most of these lesions are isolated, and they affect more commonly a single type of vascular tissue. In this sense, it is common to distinguish them depending on the vascular system affected: vessels transporting blood (arteries, veins or capillars), or those linked to the lymphatic circulation. 
 
Vascular malformations are present at birth, and they don’t exhibit a tendence to natural regression.  In certain cases multiple types can be combined (for instance, an angioma next to a venous or lymphatic malformation), which can give result to certain sindromes of extreme complexity. 
 
It is believed that vascular anomalies are due to genetic errors during the embrionary period, which affect the angiogenesis process that determines the structure of vascular tissue.
 
 
 

What are the different type of vascular anomalies?

 
Vascular anomalies are classified in two large categories:
 
1. Benign Tumours
 
These are the Hemangiomas.
 
2. Vascular Malformations
 
In this second category we must sub-classify as follows:
  • Slow-flow malformations:
    • Capillar Malformations
    • Venous Malformations
    • Lymphatic Malformations
  • High-flow malformations:
    • Arterio-Venous Malformations
 
As seen above, the vascular malformations are commonly referred to depending on the part of the vascular system affected. However as mentioned above, there are instances where multiple malformations can co-exists at the same time.
 

Whare the potential consequences of vascular anomalies?

 
The symthoms and consecuences of vascular anomalies can be of physical or functional order, or both. Depending on their localization and extension, they can represent:
 
More or less serious aesthetic problems 
  • Chronical Pain
  • Neurological troubles
  • Hemorragies or infections
  • Physical alterations affecting a body member or organ
 
Given the potential gravity of the consequences and symthoms, it is very important to have access to an accurate diagnostic as early as possible. Also, because of their complexity, these pathologies are most often best treated in a multi-disciplinary center.
 
Please check our section on “Finding Medical Attention” for some references of specialized centers (voir Finding Medical Care).