Haemangiomas are non-cancerous (benign) growths of blood vessels. These are extra group of blood vessels. They can occur anywhere on the body, but are most common on the head and neck. They are a vascular anomaly and are known as vascular tumors. They are characterized by their fleshy appearance, which is quite raised.
Do Haemangiomas Grow?
The haemangiomas generally cause no harm to the body and are best left as is, if they are not problematic. They grow very rapidly in their beginning phase and then stay like that for a few years. Then, they suddenly start reducing in size and usually totally disappear. Sometimes, a faint mark or scar may be left behind after they completely involute. Also, sometimes some color change in the skin at the place of the shrunken haemangioma may be seen. However, these things are of no consequence to the body.
If haemangioma starts affecting the normal function of the organ where it is present, then there may be a need to remove it with some procedures. But, physicians consider this as a last resort. Usually, they prefer the haemangiomas to be left alone unless they are causing very serious symptoms. If it is decided to treat a haemangioma, there are certain options available out there to get the desired result. Medications like corticosteroids, beta blockers and some medicated gels can be prescribed by the physician to help the haemangiomas to shrink in size or to stop their growth. Laser treatment is also an option these days. Laser can also be used in order to facilitate the healing. When the medical procedures don’t give the desired results, especially when the haemangioma is on any internal organ, Surgery is the choice of treatment usually, if it is possible to remove the haemangioma without disturbing the function of that particular organ. If just the removal of the haemangioma is not possible, then there may be a need to remove a part of the affected organ as well, along with the haemangioma. Another option can be the tying up the main artery that supplies blood to the affected organ. Cutting the blood supply will stop the growth of the haemangioma and shrink it in size. Radiation therapy is also an option, though not widely used for safety reasons.
Haemangiomas do grow rapidly. And depending upon where they are located, they may cause hazardous effects on the body. Hence, timely intervention is preferable to eliminate any risk of organ damage.
Classification of Haemangiomas
Depending upon when they occur in a child’s life, they are classified as infantile haemangiomas and congenital haemangiomas. Infantile haemangioma is not present at birth, but usually appears anywhere between 4 weeks to six months age of a child’s life. Congenital haemangiomas, as the name suggest, are present at the time of birth. They then rapidly grow roughly up to the age of 12 to 15 months. Then, they slowly start to shrink in size over a period. Most of them disappear by the child’s fifth birthday and almost all of them disappear by the time the child turns ten.
They are also classified as superficial haemangiomas, deep haemangiomas and mixed haemangiomas, depending upon where they are originated in the body. The superficial ones are the bright red in color. This is because the cluster of the blood vessels does not go very deep and is usually subcutaneous. They look a little raised and like a very fleshy patch. The deep haemangiomas are usually purple in color. This is because they are situated a little deeper in the body and hence exhibit a very dense supply of blood. Also, they are generally a bulge which is spongy in feel and feel very pulpy. They may change color when pressed. However, there is no pulsation in there. The mixed haemangiomas exhibit mixed characteristics of both the types of haemangiomas.
Haemangiomas can occur on internal organs as well. They can be seen on lungs, liver, kidneys and spleen too.
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