What are vascular anomalies?

A vascular anomaly refers to a rare group of disorders of abnormal growth of vascular tissue and/or extra blood vessels. They are generally classified into two main broad categories: vascular tumor and vascular malformation.

Hemangioma is the most common form of vascular anomaly, occurring in approximately 10% of caucasian children, and are less prevalent in other ethnicities. Girls are 3 to 5 times more likely to have vascular anomalies than boys. They usually appear in the first few weeks of life.  Because a hemangioma is a growth or swelling of the cells that line the blood vessels, it is considered a vascular tumor, although it is benign (ie, not cancer). Most hemangiomas are located on the face and neck, or on the legs and arms. The appearance depends on location. If they are on the surface of the skin, they are reminiscent of a ripe strawberry. However, if they are just under the skin they often appear as a bluish swelling. The next most common location is on the liver. Hemangiomas can also grow in other internal organs, such as the larynx, or small and large intestine. Hemangiomas are generally self-involuting, which means they disappear on their own over time, although some of these enlarged or abnormal vessels may remain for life.  Most hemangiomas do not cause any other physical problems, although it is possible that some may be associated with skin ulceration and bleeding. The most frequent complaints about hemangiomas are based on the fact that they can affect a person’s appearance and can provoke unwanted reactions from others. Other vascular tumors, such as kaposiform hemangioendothelioma and tufted angioma are associated with more serious complications such as bleeding from profoundly low platelet counts. 

Examples of other vascular anomalies include port-wine stains, and masses of abnormal swollen veins called venous malformations.

Vascular Anomalies Program

Our team of physicians and nurses include specialists in dermatology, surgery, hematology/oncology, diagnostic and interventional radiology and neuroradiology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, cardiology, neurology, genetics and vascular biology.


Our Team