Vascular malformations are vascular structural anomalies that are present at birth but may not be apparent until later in life. Failure of the body to resorb immature vascular structures during development in the first few weeks of life in the uterus results in retained undifferentiated, redundant vasculature. Vascular malformations may increase in size due to trauma, surgery or hormonal influences (i.e. pregnancy, puberty, birth control pills). Vascular malformations are categorized into arteriovenous malformations (AVM), arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs), capillary malformations, venous malformations, lymphatic malformations, and mixed malformations. These vascular anomalies are very rare and have been historically difficult to diagnose and treat. Most clinicians see only a few in a lifetime of practice. Thus, patients afflicted with these disorders often seek help from many different physicians and undergo repetitive examinations, misdiagnosis, and frequent failed attempts at "definitive" therapy that lead to exacerbation of symptoms, lesion recurrences, and disability.
What is a Vascular Malformation?
What are the signs and symptoms of a Vascular Malformation?
Vascular malformations can be asymptomatic or cosmetically deforming or cause significant pain, swelling, disparity of limb size, skeletal abnormalities like pathologic fractures, muscle atrophy, skin discoloration, induce coagulopathy (bleeding disorders), induce neuropathy (nerve dysfunction) or cause ulceration. In the case of larger and more central anatomically located AVMs (arteriovenous malformations), there is greater likelihood of high output cardiac consequences. Vascular malformations cause severe symptoms in the organ systems that they occupy and cause their dysfunction.