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Hemangioma Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is it ?

A hemangioma, or infantile hemangioma, is a benign vascular tumor that appears on the infant’s body a few days or weeks after birth and develops rapidly during the first months of life, before regressing spontaneously and disappearing into age. from 5-7 years old. However, complications may require medical treatment. This is the most common vascular abnormality, affecting 5 to 10% of children.


Symptoms of hemangioma

A hemangioma can range from a few millimeters to several centimeters. It is isolated in 80% of cases and is localized in the head and neck in 60% of cases. But there are also multiple (or disseminated) haemangiomas. After a phase of rapid growth, its evolution is interrupted around the first year of life of the infant, then the tumor progressively regress until completely disappearing in the majority of the cases. There are three clinical types of hemangiomas:

  • Dermal hemangiomas, affecting the dermis, bright red in the form of a plaque or lobe, smooth or grainy surface like a fruit, hence its name “strawberry angioma”, appearing during first three weeks of life;
  • The subcutaneous hemangiomas, concerning the hypodermis, of bluish color and appearing later, towards 3 or 4 months.
  • Mixed forms affecting the dermis and hypodermis, red in the center and bluish around.

The origins of the disease

the organization of the vascular system has not matured in the weeks preceding birth, as is normally the case, and continues abnormally in the ectopic life.

It is important to emphasize that, despite classification efforts, there is still a great deal of semantic and therefore diagnostic confusion around the term “hemangioma”. Note that there are other benign vascular tumors, such as congenital hemangioma. Unlike the acquired tumor of the hemangioma, the tumor it causes is present from birth and does not grow. It is purple and often localized near the joints. Finally, vascular tumors should be distinguished from vascular malformations.


Risk factors

Girls are three times more likely to develop hemangioma than boys. It is also observed that the risk is higher in infants with white and light skin, small weights and when the pregnancy has been complicated.

Prevention and treatment of hemangioma

The regression of the haemangioma is spontaneous in 80-90% of the cases (according to the sources), but it is necessary to apply a treatment when the haemangioma is bulky and becomes complicated, in the following cases:

  • The tumor becomes necrotic, bleeds, and ulcerates;
  • The location of the tumor may prevent the proper functioning of an organ, whether eye, mouth, ear, nose …;
  • A very unsightly hemangioma causes significant psychological effects for the child, but also for the parents. In fact, an unsightly hemangioma can lead to a range of negative feelings: a sense of child isolation, guilt, anxiety and even fear.

Treatments for hemangioma include corticosteroids, cryotherapy (cold therapy), laser therapy and more rarely surgical excision. Note that a new treatment discovered by chance in 2008, propranolol, gives good results, while limiting the risk of side effects. It is a beta-blocking drug that received marketing authorization in Europe in 2014.

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