Hemangiomas in children: methods of treatment, what are the possible complications
Hemangioma in a child is a type of birthmark. This is the most common benign tumor on the skin. Neoplasms consist of endothelial cells that line the blood vessels. They can appear in a child immediately at birth, or in the first months of life. Often pass without treatment, however, only a specialist can determine the need for therapy in each individual case.
Statistics: hemangioma in children
Hemangiomas of various types are found in 10% of children around the world. They can appear to any racial group. According to statistics, found in children with body weight below 1000 g (premature). Doctors note that neoplasms are less common in boys than in girls.
About 60% of all hemangiomas recorded in clinical practice are formed mainly in the head or neck of a child. Most neoplasms will continue to grow during the first 6-12 months of life, before they begin to shrink in size. If this does not happen, you must necessarily apply the appropriate treatment.
Causes of hemangioma in children
The exact causes of neoplasms of this type have not yet been elucidated. At the same time, it was proved that their appearance is not associated with drugs taken during pregnancy, or with environmental exposure. Research focuses on the hemangioma progenitor cell, which helps to understand the origin of the hemangioma.
Types of hemangiomas
Hemangiomas can be classified according to skin and other soft tissue lesions. They are:
If the lesion is near the surface of the skin, it is called superficial hemangioma. Superficial lesions appear as bright red, convex or flat spots on the skin, or as a textured area. Veins emerging from the lesion can also be seen under the skin.
If the hemangioma grows in the lower layers of the skin or in the muscles, this is called a deep lesion. Deep hemangiomas range from gray to blue, but because of their depth, they may not be seen for many weeks or months after birth, although they grow. This type of lesion is more rigid and more elastic to the touch, its color does not disappear completely when you click on the area.
When a hemangioma has components of both superficial and deep damage, this is called a combined lesion. Combined lesions can have a multi-level color combination: red – on top and blue – below.
As hemangiomas contract, they undergo changes in consistency and color, becoming softer and grayer. Visible affected layers of the epidermis are replaced over time with thin skin that looks more normal.
Diagnosis of hemangiomas
In most cases, the diagnosis is made by comparing the medical history with the data of a physical examination. If there is uncertainty in distinguishing hemangiomas from other lesions or vascular malformations, ultrasound is used.
In some cases, x-ray tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT), may also be needed to make a diagnosis and determine the extent of the lesion. If in doubt regarding benign growth, a biopsy will be performed.
Although complications are rare, they can still occur. Possible complications include:
obstruction of vital functions (vision, hearing, breathing),
distortion of facial features.
In any case, if there are characteristic spots on the skin of the child, you should immediately show it to a pediatric dermatologist. Complications, although rare, are always at risk. Hemangiomas in children can even affect internal organs, including the intestines and liver.
Treatment of hemangiomas in children
Most hemangiomas in children contract on their own and do not require treatment. However, all children with significant hemangiomas should be observed by the attending physician.
Decisions about whether to treat and when to treat should be made on an individual basis. The doctor considers:
the location of the hemangioma,
current physical functioning of the body,
the likelihood of short-term and long-term complications.
If the child has a hemangioma, then the doctor should observe it. Only a specialist can determine whether treatment is required for the baby and which therapy will be most suitable.
In a small percentage of patients, residual adipose tissue or superficial telangiectasias (small dilated blood vessels on the skin) remain after the hemangioma has decreased or disappeared. To improve the appearance in such cases, surgical intervention and / or laser therapy may be required.
The choice of optimal treatment depends on the stage of growth of the lesion, the presence of complications and emotional needs. It is possible to use combination therapy.