Vascular malformations are a type of birthmark or a growth, often present at birth and composed of blood vessels that can cause functional or cosmetic problems. Congenital or acquired blood vessel abnormalities can involve arteries, veins, capillaries, lymphatics, and combinations of these blood vessels.
Interventional neuroradiology is a subspecialty of radiology focused on minimally-invasive, image guided treatment of neurovascular conditions. We work closely with a team of neurologists and neurosurgeons to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
- Acute Ischemic Stroke
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage
- Intracranial aneurysm
- Arteriovenous malformation
- Dural sinus thrombosis
- Cervical carotid and intracranial arterial stenosis
- Intractable epistaxis
- Hypervascular tumors
- Vertebral compression fractures
How is a vascular malformation diagnosed?
After a thorough history and physical exam, the doctor’s first step is to determine whether the abnormality is, in fact, a vascular malformation, and not another type of vascular abnormality such as a hemangioma, which is a benign tumor or noncancerous growth of the blood vessels. A person can have a single isolated vascular malformation or one that involves several vessels. In some cases, a vascular malformation turns out to be part of a more complex syndrome that features multiple disorders and affects multiple organs.
Typically, doctors will order imaging studies to help with diagnosis. Imaging studies may include ultrasound, MRI, and/or angiography, an imaging procedure that involves the injection of dye that will outline the blood vessels on an X-ray.
How are vascular malformations treated?
Treatment varies, depending on the type of blood vessel that is involved, the type of vascular malformation or syndrome, and the overall health of the patient. Since there is no cure for most vascular malformations, treatment aims to minimize symptoms. Having input from different kinds of specialists, each with unique sets of skills and experience, helps identify what’s best for each patient.
Treatment options can range from addressing minor (cosmetic) concerns to providing life-saving care for critical conditions. They may include one or more of the following approaches:
- Catheter-based techniques such as embolization, a procedure to close off a problematic blood vessel; and sclerotherapy, the injection of a chemical to cause a vessel to close
- Laser therapy
- Simple observation with regular follow-up visits
- Surgery, sometimes followed by reconstruction, which may be used in conjunction with other treatments. If there are widespread deep lesions, multiple treatments are often necessary.