The exact cause of hemangiomas is not well understood. However, different types of hemangiomas have been linked to different causes.
Some infantile hemangiomas develop from abnormalities in the development of blood vessels while the baby is in the womb, whereas some do not have any cause. Some hemangiomas develop during pregnancy and disappear after delivery. Some hemangiomas are caused by genetic problems. Some arise after an injury, but whether the injury is the actual cause has not yet been established.
What are the types of hemangiomas?
Hemangiomas are the most common in the skin.
- Infantile hemangioma: Hemangiomas of the skin are common in infants and are known as infantile hemangiomas. They can be present at birth but most typically appear within the first weeks or months of life. Most infantile hemangiomas subside at puberty.
- Intramuscular hemangioma (hemangiomas in the muscle tissue): It can occur at any age but most often occur in young adults.
- Bone hemangioma: Bone hemangiomas occur in the skull or spine and are most common in older people.
- Internal organ hemangioma: These are most common in the liver and intestines. They can also occur in the respiratory system and brain.
What are the signs and symptoms of hemangiomas?
Hemangiomas of the skin initially appear as small red bumps. Gradually, as the blood vessels multiply further, hemangiomas look like big, burgundy-colored bumps. Their color resembles the deep red color of strawberry, and hence, they are also called “strawberry marks.”
Hemangiomas generally do not produce any symptoms unless they are multiple or located in a sensitive area such as near the eye.
Hemangiomas that grow in the internal organs such as the liver and other organs of the digestive system can cause problems such as:
Deep hemangiomas in the muscles may be painful and swollen. The pain and swelling increase with activity.
Which tests are used to diagnose hemangiomas?
Other tests that help in knowing more about the exact location, size, and depth of hemangioma include:
- Ultrasonography (USG)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Angiogram (injection of dye into the surrounding bloodstream to make the hemangioma show up in an X-ray image)
- Biopsy (removal of a small tissue from the hemangioma to check if it is cancer)
- Blood tests (such as genetic analysis for multiple hemangiomas)
How are hemangiomas treated?
Although hemangiomas may not require any treatment, you need to give regular follow-ups to monitor any changes in it.
Treatment of hemangioma can include any of the following:
- Beta-blocker medication (timolol and propranolol)
- Anti-inflammatory medications (steroids)
- Compression (using of inflatable sleeves or leggings to apply pressure to the hemangioma)
- Embolization (a procedure to cut off the blood supply to large hemangiomas)
- Laser treatment (used for removing hemangiomas or alleviating the symptoms)
- Surgical treatment (surgical removal of hemangiomas)
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Infantile Hemangioma. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1083849-overview