Vascular surgery at UNC Children's

Vascular Anomalies

If your child has a vascular anomaly—an abnormal collection of blood and/or lymph vessels—you can turn to UNC Children’s for expert medical advice and treatment. Our Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic is one of only a few such programs in the southeastern United States. We regularly bring together specialists from 14 pediatric and adult medical divisions to provide seamless, multidisciplinary care for these conditions—for both children and adults.

Vascular Anomalies We Treat

Most vascular anomalies are benign (noncancerous) conditions. These can be of two major types: vascular tumors (the most common of which are hemangiomas) and vascular malformations. Find help at any time for conditions such as:

  • Hemangiomas – An abnormal collection of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs; sometimes referred to as “strawberries”
  • Capillary malformations (CM) – A type of birthmark sometimes called port-wine stains due to the pink/red/purple coloration of the skin
  • Venous malformations (VM) – Enlarged sponge-like channels in and around the veins
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM) – A mass caused by painful, abnormal connections between arteries and veins
  • Lymphatic malformations (LM) – Large, soft masses, usually in the neck, armpit or groin area; used to be called cystic hygromas
  • Lymphedema – Localized swelling caused by fluid buildup in the vessels of the lymphatic system

Multidisciplinary Care at the Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic

When you choose UNC Children’s Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic, your child’s care team will work together to confirm a diagnosis. Then we’ll work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your child’s age, symptoms, type of malformation, and possible future issues.

Even though your child may see doctors from multiple specialties, the initial consultation happens in just one day to reduce the number of return visits. Depending on your child’s age and condition, s/he may see:

  • A pediatric hematology-oncology physician, who makes a diagnosis, evaluates your child for blood clotting problems, and determines if any medications are appropriate
  • A pediatric dermatologist, who determines the type of malformation, creates a plan for any skin-related birthmarks, and may perform laser treatments
  • A pediatric geneticist, who checks to see if there are any heritable or other genetic causes for your child’s anomaly
  • Specialists who assist in the management of malformation-related symptoms affecting certain organs, such as the heart, lungs, digestive tract or kidneys
  • A pediatric radiologist or interventional radiologist, who may perform image-guided treatments such as embolizations or sclerotherapy
  • Surgical teams, who perform surgical removal of the malformation when appropriate and obtain tissue for biopsy

Your child also may benefit from physical therapists and occupational therapists depending on his or her specific needs. If a hospital stay is required at any time, your son or daughter will be admitted to our state-of-the-art clinical home, N.C. Children’s Hospital, where s/he will have access to the support services and amenities of one of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.”

UNC Children’s also is part of one of only 12 Centers of Excellence nationwide for the treatment of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) and Sturge Weber syndrome.

Contact Us

To be evaluated by UNC Children’s specialists in vascular anomalies, please call:

  • UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology – 919-966-1178
  • UNC Pediatric Dermatology – 919-966-2485
  • UNC Vascular Interventional Radiology – 984-974-0420

Elijah’s Story

When Elijah was born, excess fluid had overrun his lymphatic vessels, engorging and distorting his neck and chest. Learn how his UNC Children’s care team helped create a brighter future for the playful toddler.