Interventional Radiology

Vascular malformations

What are vascular malformations?

Vascular malformation is a general term that includes congenital vascular anomalies of only veins, only lymph vessels, both veins and lymph vessels, or both arteries and veins. Vascular malformations are uncommon benign vascular lesions that often don’t present in patients until their teens or early twenties.

Debilitating symptoms such as pain and swelling can develop and may cause restrictions in movement. The blood flow through these vessels is slow-moving and it may be so slow that the blood can clot and this can cause a local phlebitis (inflammation of the vein) that is often painful.

Some vascular malformations may bleed, particularly if they are close to the surface of the skin. In the most severe cases symptoms can include skin breakdown over the veins (ulceration).

MRI and ultrasound are the best way to image vascular malformations. Historically vascular malformations have been treated mostly by surgery, however more recently interventional radiology using image guided sclerotherapy has become the first treatment option for many patients.

Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure for the treatment of abnormal veins (spider veins, varicose veins, or vascular malformations). It involves injecting a solution or foam (sclerosant) directly into the blood vessel, causing it to shrink and over time, the vessel fades from view.