About Vascular Anomalies

Vascular anomalies occur when the tubes that carry blood or clear body fluid, called lymph, around the body do not develop properly. Birthmarks are the most familiar vascular anomalies, but the term refers to several different conditions. Many are either present at birth or develop soon after.

Why choose Seattle Children’s?

The experts you need are here

Seattle Children’s Vascular Anomalies Program is one of the largest vascular anomalies programs on the West Coast and is nationally recognized. Doctors from across the United States send children here for treatment because of our specialized expertise. We see more children with vascular anomalies than any other hospital in the region.

Our Vascular Anomalies team brings together experts, including otolaryngologists, dermatologists, lymphedema specialists, pediatric surgeons, plastic surgeons, ophthalmologists, orthopedic surgeons, geneticists and interventional radiologists. This team works together to develop a treatment plan that fits your child’s unique needs. When possible, we schedule your child’s appointments so they see all specialists they need on the same day and in the same location.

We offer advanced treatments

Whenever possible, we treat vascular anomalies with minimally invasive treatments (by entering your child's body as little as possible during procedures). Our providers also use research to find better treatments and improve quality of life for children with vascular anomalies. Seattle Children’s patients may have access to clinical trials for new therapies before they are widely available. Learn more.

We partner with your child and family

We help you and your child manage long-lasting (chronic) conditions, and work with experts in counseling, Social Work, Physical Therapy, Pain Medicine and Lymphedema Therapy to make sure that your child's medical, social and emotional needs are met.

Conditions We Treat

In our Vascular Anomalies program, we see children with many conditions, including:

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are tangles of arteries and veins. Their exact cause is unknown, but they seem to develop during the first part of pregnancy. They can be seen when your baby is born, and look like a swollen, dark-red spot. AVMs change slowly over time. As your child grows, AVMs can cause pain, swelling or bleeding. They can limit your child's ability to move and cause other serious health problems. Read more.

  • Birthmarks are also called macular stains, stork bites, salmon patches or angel kisses. They are flat, pink or red marks with irregular borders. Most birthmarks slowly clear up by themselves and are gone by the time your child is 18 months of age. Those on the back of the neck may stay for years. Your child should see a healthcare provider who is familiar with birthmarks to make sure the mark is not a port wine stain or hemangioma. Those are two similar-looking conditions that need more care. Read more.

  • A hemangioma is a skin abnormality. There are different kinds - some look red and are in the top skin layers. Some look blue and are deeper in the skin. A combination of these abnormalities is called "mixed." Hemangiomas may fade over the years. While some hemangiomas require no treatment, others can cause problems with vision, breathing or feeding. Read more.

  • Children with HHT have blood vessels that lack the very small tubes (capillaries) that go between an artery and a vein. Usually, arteries drop blood carrying oxygen into the capillaries. The oxygen is left behind, and the blood then flows into the veins. Without capillaries, blood in an artery flows under high pressure directly into a vein. This can cause the vein to burst and bleed. Read more.

  • KTS is a rare disorder that children are born with (congenital). Children with KTS often have three signs of the condition: a port wine stain covering one or more of their arms or legs, swelling or malformation in veins and one arm or leg that is either larger or smaller than the other. Children with KTS can have one or all of these signs, as well as a wide range of other bone and skin problems. Read more.

  • Unlike many other vascular anomalies, lymphatic malformations don't involve blood vessels. Instead, they affect the lymphatic, or body fluid, system. They happen when there is a problem in the formation of the tubes that carry body fluids (lymphatic vessels). As a result, fluids build up in the body's tissues and lymphatic vessels. When the buildup is close to the skin, you can easily see a lump. These malformations may be anywhere, but often they are in the head or neck. Read more about lymphatic malformations and learn about our lymphatic malformations research.

  • Lymphedema occurs when thick, protein-rich fluid called lymph builds up because of a problem with the lymph vessels or nodes. This causes swelling, usually in your child’s arm or leg. Children may be born with a condition that can cause lymphedema, such as a problem with how their lymph system formed. Or lymphedema may develop later because part of the lymph system is removed or damaged. It can be treated with complete decongestive therapy. Read more.

  • Port wine stains are flat, pink to dark red patches on your child's skin. They look like a splash of purple or red port wine. Port wine stains develop because the blood vessels in the patch of skin do not have small nerve fibers that narrow the blood vessels. Because these blood vessels are wide open, there is an increase in the flow of blood through the skin in the area. The increased blood flow shows up as red or purple patches. Read more.

  • Sturge-Weber syndrome involves problems with blood vessels in the face, the brain or both. SWS has many health disorders that often happen with it, including problems with vision, seizures and developmental delays. Babies are born with these malformations in the blood vessels, but SWS does not run in families. Read more.

  • Venous malformations are collections of veins that are full of blood but that are not used by the body. When your child is born, venous malformations usually are a painless, purple mass. They grow slowly as your child grows. As your child gets closer to the pre-teen years, a VM may begin to cause pain and swell. Read more about venous malformations and learn about our venous malformations research.

  • Our team treats a number of rare conditions. One of these is called Cutis marmorata telangiectatica congenita, which mainly affects the blood vessels of the skin. Another is called Kasabach-Merritt phenomenon, a serious condition in which a vascular tumor traps and destroys blood platelets. We also diagnose and treat PHACE Syndrome, a group of problems related to large hemagiomas and birth defects of the brain, heart, eyes, head or neck, as well as lymphedema, a buildup of lymphatic fluid that causes swelling, most often in the arms or legs. Read more.

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