Vascular Anomalies and Lymphedema

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Abstract

Learning Objectives:

After studying this article, the participant should be able to: 1. Define the difference between vascular tumors and malformations. 2. Distinguish between the natural history of hemangiomas and that of vascular malformations. 3. Identify the different types of hemangiomas and vascular malformations and understand evaluation, treatment, and complications. 4. Understand the role of lymphaticovenular anastomoses in the treatment of extremity lymphedema.

Background:

The International Society for the Study of Vascular Anomalies classification, which is the most widely accepted classification system in use, divides vascular anomalies into vascular tumors (inclusive of hemangiomas) and malformations. This serves as a guideline for diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of these lesions.

Methods:

Although hemangiomas tend to have a predictable clinical course over the first year of life, going through proliferating, involuting, and involuted stages, vascular malformations demonstrate growth commensurate with age, often becoming more prominent in puberty. In addition, they never regress, and persist throughout life.

Results:

Different modalities of treatment may be appropriate for vascular tumors and different subsets of vascular malformations. Details are provided in this review. Lymphaticovenular anastomoses provide an excellent addition to our methods of treatment of extremity lymphedema, and are made possible through development of supermicrosurgical techniques.

Conclusions:

Vascular anomalies have a high prevalence in the general population. Thus, it is vital that the plastic surgeon has a good understanding of classification, evaluation, and treatment options. Lymphedema is another common condition that is encountered. Understanding of lymphaticovenular anastomoses and their applications aids treatment planning for select patients.

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