, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 895-905

Vascular anomalies: what a radiologist needs to know

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Abstract

Most haemangiomas and vascular malformations are identified according to clinical criteria. A good knowledge of the classification and clinical characteristics of the vascular anomalies is necessary when managing these patients. However, some cases are challenging either because of an atypical presentation (e.g., soft-tissue mass with normal overlying skin) or because of classification difficulties. Doppler US and MRI are the two main imaging modalities that allow classification of the vascular anomalies and are useful in those clinically uncertain cases to establish the correct diagnosis. This aids the choice of the most appropriate treatment and to inform the parents of the prognosis. High-resolution grey-scale and Doppler US allow excellent visualization of most superficial masses. Doppler US is the easiest way to assess the haemodynamics of a vascular lesion and to clarify a doubtful diagnosis between a haemangioma and vascular malformation. MRI is the best technique for evaluating the extent of the lesions and their relationship to adjacent structures. While newly developed drugs from angiogenesis research labs are awaited, radiologists have an important role in the treatment of haemangiomas and vascular malformations. Intervention remains crucial in cases of alarming haemangiomas and venous malformations (VM), lymphatic malformations (LM) and arteriovenous malformations (AVM). A multidisciplinary team, including paediatricians, haematologists, surgeons and radiologists, must manage the problem cases both in terms of diagnostic work-up and therapeutic options. This paper will briefly discuss the imaging findings and treatment of vascular anomalies.