Vascular anomalies are developmental abnormalities of the arteries, veins and capillaries. Although they are congenital anomalies, they often first appear later in childhood and sometimes in adulthood.
The Vascular Anomalies Clinic at Children’s National Hospital brings together all the necessary pediatric specialists — in one place — for individual evaluation and treatment of children with vascular anomalies. We are also one of the few clinics in the country dedicated to treating vascular birthmarks.
Choosing Children’s National for Vascular Anomalies Care
As the only hospital in Washington, D.C., dedicated exclusively to caring for kids with vascular anomalies, highlights of our program include:
- Precise diagnosis. Our pediatric specialists accurately diagnose your child’s vascular condition and work together to provide the most appropriate treatment.
- Expertise. If your child's condition requires surgery, our surgical care team performs the most pediatric cases in the area, ensuring patients and their families receive the highest level of care. We have three full-time plastic and reconstructive surgeons who dedicate their entire practice to children. In addition, Children's National is the only area hospital to guarantee that a fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologist always administers anesthesia for all patients.
Understanding Vascular Anomalies
Vascular anomalies come in many different shapes and sizes. Some vascular anomalies may be deep below the surface of your child's skin and are not readily apparent, while others are readily apparent and involve the skin of the face. Vascular anomalies can also occur as isolated lesions, while others occur in conjunction with anomalies of other parts of the body including bones, muscles and organs. Our program uses imaging studies, such as ultrasound, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging to determine the type and extent of your child's vascular anomaly.
Most vascular anomalies are due to a genetic mutation that occurs only in the area of the vascular anomaly. The mutations are called somatic mutations and unlike germline mutations, which affect all cells of the body, somatic mutations only affect a portion of cells in the body. There are more than 40 genetic mutations leading to vascular anomalies and this is increasing. Some of the common genetic mutations include PIK3CA, TEK, TIE2, mTOR, , EPHB4, MAP2K1, TGF, PTEN, VEGFC and RASA1. In some cases, the discovery of specific genetic mutations for vascular anomalies has helped to identify targeted medical treatments.
Treating Vascular Anomalies
Depending on the type of vascular anomaly and its effect on the child, some anomalies benefit from medical treatment. Treatment options include:
- Laser therapy
- Surgical excision
Some vascular anomalies can be cured with treatment while others may improve with treatment. Treatment of most vascular anomalies is not urgent. However, treatment of hemangiomas that involve the face of young infants or hemangiomas that bleed or ulcerate can require emergency treatment. If your child requires emergency treatment, we offer urgent telehealth or clinic appointments.