Hemangioma is an abnormal growth of blood vessels that occurs shortly after birth. The growths usually appear a few weeks after birth and could be mistaken for a birthmark. Hemangioma may occur on any part of the body and is usually harmless. However, sometimes they may bleed or look like ulcers.
Associated Anatomy of Hemangioma
Hemangioma is not restricted to a particular organ and can appear anywhere on the body. Nevertheless, hemangioma is commonly seen on the face, back, chest, or head. The red bump may start as a small rash anywhere on the body but would slowly increase in size as the child grows.
Causes of Hemangioma
Hemangioma is caused due to the clustering of blood vessels. Doctors and specialists have been unable to identify an actual reason for the occurrence of hemangioma. However, It is speculated that exposure to certain proteins while still in the womb may cause hemangioma after birth.
Symptoms of Hemangioma
Although most hemangiomas appear only after birth on any part of an infant's body, they may also be present at birth.
A hemangioma may look like a flat red patch on the skin at the start. Therefore, it could be mistaken for a birthmark. However, in the first years after a baby's birth, the small red mark grows into a bump that visibility sticks out. The bump may appear to be rubbery, with a spongy texture.
The growth is visible till the age of five, after which it steadily grows smaller and lighter. By age 10, most hemangiomas disappear and leave behind only faintly discolored skin. However, depending on the size of the hemangioma, at times, there could also be loose skin left behind. If the loose skin is detrimental to living an uncomplicated life, when the child is older, they may seek methods to remove the extra skin.
In general, hemangioma does not need any treatment. This is because the bumps or growth eventually subsides by the time a child reaches the age of 10. However, sometimes, external intervention may be needed to treat hemangioma.
The treatment for hemangioma varies depending on the severity and type of the problem. Before considering any treatment plan, a doctor would first observe the growth over a period of time to study the growth to make sure it is not severe or life-threatening.
If the hemangioma is near the ears, nose, or other vital organs, the growth may be slowed down using anti-inflammatory medication, primarily steroids.
Beta-blockers may be prescribed depending on the size of the hemangioma and even the type. Beta-blockers could help slow down the growth of the hemangioma considerably.
Embolization is the process of stopping blood flow to the hemangioma. This can be achieved by injecting chemicals or particles that block blood vessels in and around the growth. In addition, embolization can help reduce the size of vascular growth on the skin.
Laser treatment is usually not recommended for children with hemangioma. However, if the growth is centred on an essential organ for survival like the eyes, nose, mouth, or even the chest, docs may recommend laser treatments to remove hemangioma in children. This treatment should not be done without input from a qualified doctor.
In some cases, when the hemangioma may be affecting healthy cells around it, it may need to be surgically removed. The growth would be cut and removed once the patient has been given anesthesia. The skin is then sewn back together and bandaged to encourage healing.
Risk Factors For Hemangioma
Hemangioma is more commonly seen in girls than boys. It is also more common in children of Caucasian descent born prematurely. Hemangioma is also seen where the child was a part of multiple births.
Stages of Hemangioma
There are three stages of hemangioma.
The Growth Stage
This stage is also known as the proliferative stage. This is because hemangioma grows the most during this stage. In children, it is during the first year of life.
In the plateau stage, the hemangioma does not grow or reduce. Instead, it remains stable on the skin without change.
The Involution Stage
During the involution stage, the hemangioma slowly starts reducing its size. The growth becomes small, and the redness starts facing out. This stage is seen in children after the first year of life and before ten years.
Tests For Hemangioma
Generally, tests are not required to diagnose hemangioma on the skin's surface. Unless the growth starts bleeding or is causing internal problems for the patients, no additional tests are required.
In case of hemangioma on any internal organs, imaging tests like MRI scans, ultrasounds, and CT scans may need to be conducted to get a clear picture.
It is difficult to prevent hemangioma, where the cause for the same is unknown or not medically traceable.
Differential Diagnosis For Hemangioma
While a surface hemangioma can be identified easily, it becomes difficult to diagnose if the growth is located internally.
Internally, a patient may have some other tumors or growth on the internal organs. Imaging and other tests can help identify the growth and classify them accordingly.
The epidemiology of hemangioma is relatively low. In newborn infants, hemangioma occurrence stands between 1 and 3%, which increases to more than 10% in children a year old.
Since the condition is relatively common and not usually dangerous to patients' health, the prognosis of hemangioma is good. By the age of 10, almost 90% of hemangioma gets resolved. And while there may be some scar or loosened skin left behind, it is usually purely cosmetic.
Hemangioma grows with the child till the approximate age of one. After that, the abnormal growth reduces gradually and eventually, in most cases, disappears by the age of ten.
While hemangioma may leave behind faded marks or loose skin, there is no after effect.
Hemangioma is the abnormal growth of blood cells in a particular part of the body. Although non-cancerous, the size and shape of the growth may change how a patient can live with the condition.
While hemangioma is typically harmless, the place of the growth may cause complications for the patients. For example, if the abnormal growth is near the eyes, nose, mouth, or even the ear, it may impact how a patient can see, smell, hear or even eat. Hemangioma may also bleed and cause pain.
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