Hemangioma

Definition

A hemangioma is an abnormal buildup of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs.

Causes

About one third of hemangiomas are present at birth. The rest appear in the first several months of life.

The hemangioma may be:

Symptoms

Symptoms of a hemangioma are:

Most hemangiomas are on the face and neck.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will do a physical exam to diagnose a hemangioma. If the buildup of blood vessels is deep inside the body, a CT or MRI scan may be needed.

A hemangioma may occur with other rare conditions. Other tests to check for related problems may be done.

Treatment

The majority of small or uncomplicated hemangiomas may not need treatment. They often go away on their own and the appearance of the skin returns to normal. Sometimes, a laser may be used to remove the small blood vessels.

Cavernous hemangiomas that involve the eyelid and block vision can be treated with lasers or steroid injections to shrink them. This allows vision to develop normally. Large cavernous hemangiomas or mixed hemangiomas may be treated with steroids, taken by mouth or injected into the hemangioma.

Taking beta-blocker medicines may also help reduce the size of a hemangioma.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Small superficial hemangiomas will often disappear on their own. About one half go away by age 5, and almost all disappear by age 7.

Possible Complications

These complications can occur from a hemangioma:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

All birthmarks, including hemangiomas, should be evaluated by your provider during a regular exam.

Hemangiomas of the eyelid that may cause problems with vision must be treated soon after birth. Hemangiomas that interfere with eating or breathing also need to be treated early.

Call your provider if a hemangioma is bleeding or develops a sore.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent hemangiomas.


Review Date: 10/14/2018
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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