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Vascular Anomalies

The Vascular Anomalies Program at WVU Medicine Children’s is the only one of its kind in the state of West Virginia. We offer the most advanced treatments for all types of vascular tumors and vascular malformations. Our team treats newborns and children with anomalies, as well as adults who were born with vascular anomalies but didn’t receive treatment as children. We combine leading-edge medicine with compassionate care for remarkable outcomes.

Effectively treating vascular anomalies is a team approach. Our board-certified pediatric dermatologist works with other pediatric specialists, including:

  • Hematologists
  • Interventional neuroradiologists
  • Oculoplastic surgeons
  • Oncologists
  • Neurointerventional surgeons
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgeons

We also work closely with the Complex Care team. They help coordinate specialty care for children whose vascular anomalies are causing other health conditions. A complex care pediatrician can connect your family with psychological and emotional support services.

Understanding Vascular Anomalies

Vascular anomalies are blood vessels that have grown abnormally. Most vascular anomalies are congenital, which means they’re present at birth. They typically show up as flat or raised areas of redness on the skin, like a birthmark. However, vascular anomalies can also occur beneath the skin and may not be visible.

Conditions We Treat

Vascular anomalies can be divided into two groups: vascular malformations and vascular tumors. These two types of anomalies may look similar, but they have important differences.

Vascular Malformations

Vascular malformations are lesions, or areas of abnormal blood vessels. They’re usually present at birth, but they may not become visible for weeks, months, or years. Vascular malformations are benign, which means they aren’t cancerous. They can occur anywhere on the body. The term “port wine stain” refers to one of the most common types of malformations.

Vascular malformations can be cosmetic and may not cause any pain. However, severe malformations can interfere with a child’s ability to speak, breathe, walk, and perform daily tasks. They can cause dangerous blood clots and affect organ function.

We treat the following types of vascular malformations:

  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Capillary malformations
  • Lymphatic malformations
  • Venous malformations

Vascular Tumors

Vascular tumors are caused when blood cells grow abnormally. They can be benign or malignant, though cancerous vascular tumors are rare in children. While they can occur anywhere on the body, they typically appear on the head or neck.

Some tumors develop during the first few weeks of a child’s life. Others may not develop until years later. Vascular tumors may be painless. However, they can ulcerate, or develop into sores and wounds. If a tumor develops near the eyes or mouth, a child’s ability to see or swallow could be at risk.

We treat the following types of vascular tumors:

  • Angiofibromas
  • Angiosarcomas
  • Congenital hemangiomas
  • Glomangiomas (glomus cell tumor)
  • Hemangioendotheliomas
  • Infantile hemangiomas (strawberry hemangiomas)
  • Kaposi’s sarcomas
  • Pyogenic granulomas (lobular capillary hemangiomas)

Treatments and Services

The best way to treat vascular anomalies is to address them as early as possible in a child’s life. The specialists at WVU Medicine Children’s have experience treating vascular malformations and tumors in the first few days and weeks after birth. Benefits of early treatment include:

  • Less chance of psychological trauma
  • Local anesthetic can be used, instead of sedation
  • Lower risk of reoccurrence

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is one of the most effective treatments for vascular anomalies. Laser therapy works by directly targeting abnormal blood vessels with laser light. We often recommend a combination of medication and laser therapy.

Our pediatric dermatologist has extensive experience with a variety of laser therapies, including those not available elsewhere in the region. We offer:

  • Pulsed dye laser therapy as early as the first week of life for capillary malformations (i.e., port wine stains)
  • Alexandrite laser therapy for other vascular malformations

Interventional Neuroradiology

Neurointerventional procedures may be used to treat vascular malformations. Our interventional neuroradiologists offer:

  • Sclerotherapy – an ultrasound-guided injection of medication into blood vessels
  • Embolization – a minimally invasive procedure to shrink a tumor or malformation by cutting off its blood flow

Neurointerventional Surgery

Most vascular anomalies can be treated with a combination of medication, laser therapy, and interventional neuroradiology. Fewer than 10 percent of children and adults with tumors or malformations will need surgery. WVU Medicine Children’s has a team of board-certified pediatric surgeons with extensive experience performing excisional surgery for vascular anomalies.


Learn more about the other specialty programs within WVU Medicine Children’s Cleft and Craniofacial Center:

1 Medical Center Drive Morgantown, WV 26506

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