Vascular anomalies and the growth of limbs: a review

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Growth of the limb in a child can be impaired, with the coexistence of a vascular malformation. In these vascular bone syndromes, altered growth is manifest as overgrowth or hypotrophy. The vascular malformation is usually complex and gets progressively worse with time. The two types of vascular anomalies in limbs, fast-flow and slow-flow, can be associated with limb length discrepancies. The fast-flow vascular malformations together with arteriovenous fistulae are part of Parkes Weber syndrome, characterized by congenital red cutaneous staining, hypertrophy in girth and increasing of limb length, lymphedema, increasing skin alterations due to a distal vascular steal, and pain, all of which develop during childhood. Treatment is generally conservative. An affected lower extremity can be complicated by pelvic tilting and scoliosis because leg length discrepancy may reach 10 cm. To avoid such a course, stapling epiphysiodesis of the knee cartilages is often performed, but this orthopedic procedure may augment the worsening of the arterial venous malformation in the limb. Therefore, less aggressive orthopedic management is preferable. Slow-flow vascular anomalies associated with limb growth alteration include (1) a diffuse capillary malformation (port-wine stain) with congenital hypertrophy of the involved extremity which is non-progressive; (2) purely venous malformations invading skin, muscles and joints, with pain, functional impairment, a chronic localized intravascular coagulopathy requiring distinctive management, and usually a slight undergrowth of the affected extremity and progressing amyotrophy; (3) the triad of a port-wine stain, anomalous veins and overgrowth of the limb, often known as Klippel–Trenaunay syndrome, which requires orthopedic management to decide the optimal timing for epiphysiodesis (i.e. when leg length discrepancy is >2.5 cm). Varicose veins are sometimes surgically removed after ultrasonographic and Doppler evaluation has confirmed a normal deep venous system. Capillary malformations can be effectively treated with pulsed dye laser, but results are usually poor in distal extremities.

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