What are vascular malformations?

Vascular malformations are birth injuries or congenital formations. That is, they are present at birth. It is a lesion made up of veins, arteries, lymphatic vessels, and capillaries.

There are several types named according to the vein they affect. The vascular malformation is also known as lymphangioma, vascular gigantism, and arteriovenous malformation. Malformations are present at birth, and as the years go by and the child grows, the increase in size proportionally.

Special mention should be made of hemangioma, a benign skin tumor birthmark that can appear during the first few months after birth.

  • Cavernous malformations
  • Dural arteriovenous fistula
  • venous malformations

Prognosis of vascular malformations

This pathology’s most crucial potential danger is bleeding, although most go unnoticed since they are not severe enough to cause damage.

Symptoms of vascular malformations

Those affected by vascular malformations usually have hardly any symptoms, and the malformations end up being discovered by chance.

However, the most generalized symptoms of this disease include headaches and sometimes seizures, although a pattern of these signs has not yet been established. Seizures can be partial or total, while headaches vary in duration, frequency, and intensity, sometimes as severe as migraines.

Malformations can also cause neurological signs, including muscle weakness or paralysis, loss of coordination, vertigo problems, visual problems, aphasia, numbness, and tingling.

A very serious type that causes symptoms at birth is a saphenous vein defect associated with hydrocephalus and can cause cardiac arrest.

Medical tests for vascular malformations

The most widely used methods for evaluating vascular malformations are ultrasound, Doppler ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, plain radiography, and computed tomography.

What are the causes of vascular malformations?

Normally there is no specific cause that causes vascular malformations and hemangiomas, although it can be transmitted by inheritance. The abnormalities are thought to be due to errors during fetal formation.

It is a pathology that makes no distinction based on sex, affecting both men and women equally.

Hemangiomas and vascular malformations are the manifestations of various genetic syndromes whose variety of inheritance patterns is wide. Hemangiomas are estimated to occur in up to 10% of babies during the first year of life, affecting slightly more girls than boys.

Can vascular malformations be prevented?

Vascular malformations are congenital disabilities that have no possible prevention.

Treatments for vascular malformations

The treatment of these pathologies varies depending on the type of malformation and its size since each has a different treatment. As a general rule, laser therapy is effective for capillary malformations and hemangiomas.

Arterial malformations are usually treated with embolization. That is, blood flow to the lesion is blocked with an injection.

Venous malformations are usually treated with an injection of a sclerosant, a coagulant that causes the channels to clot.

In cases where there are bleeding problems or breathing difficulties, it is necessary to resort to surgical intervention.

Treatment may include the following:

  • steroid medication
  • Vessel embolization
  • Surgical or laser removal

There are three surgical options to treat vascular malformations: endovascular embolization, conventional surgery, and radiosurgery, with the choice of treatment depending on the size and location of the malformation.

As such, conventional surgery requires penetrating the brain or spinal cord and removing the malformation and is the recommended technique when the malformation is in the upper part of the brain.

Embolization and radiosurgery are less invasive and safer to treat malformations of the inner part of the brain.