The hemangioma consists of an uncontrolled growth of the cells that form the blood vessels. In fact, they can be considered as benign tumors. 80% of the hemangiomas are cutaneous and consist of reddish raised patches on the skin. It is frequent enough in children. Most are benign and have no impact. If they appear in other locations, such as the spine, liver, complications can arise.
They often occur at the same time of birth, and sometimes they are formed in the first months of life. They have the first phase of rapid growth in which their volume and size increase rapidly, followed by another of rest, in which the hemangioma changes very little, and a phase of involution in which it begins to disappear. They require frequent monitoring by the pediatrician, the color and size of the spot. Most disappear with time.
Hemangiomas are not hereditary, so any baby can develop a hemangioma of the spine. The overall incidence of hemangiomas is between 8 to 10% of infants, is more or less the same in all countries and no increase has been observed in recent years. Hemangiomas are three times more frequent in girls, in premature babies, and in low birth weight newborns.
What Causes a Hemangioma on The Spine?
The cause of the hemangioma on the spine or hemangioma in general is not totally determined. But most theories point to a possible lack of oxygen in the placenta during the first months of pregnancy. Some people think that hemangiomas are the remains of the placenta implanted in the baby’s skin. It is worth mentioning that hemangiomas are not serious.
The ultimate cause of hemangiomas is unknown, although there are several theories about its appearance. Some people think that they represent small pieces of placenta implanted in babies’ skin. Another theory is that they represent a way of supplying a lack of oxygenation (hypoxia) of tissues during embryonic development.
However, a group of Spanish doctors and researchers have discovered a possible relationship between maternal factors during pregnancy and the development of hemangiomas in the fetus.
It is believed that the lack of oxygen in the placenta during the first months of pregnancy could produce alterations in the placental circulation. This is in turn related to factors of maternal history during pregnancy, such as in vitro fertilization and twin births. In turn, it has been seen that the more premature the baby is, the more likely it is to develop a hemangioma, so 25% of premature babies will develop it. In conclusion, it is the hypoxia or lack of oxygen in the cells of the blood vessels that would cause them to proliferate without control.
There are many other factors that remain to be discovered about the formation of these injuries. The problem arises in the difficulty of studying them in the fetus. For the time being, research will continue using laboratory animals such as mice.
Effects of Hemangiomas
Hemangiomas, although benign, are not a banality or simply aesthetic problem: there are very disfiguring hemangiomas that completely distort the physical appearance of the child; hemangiomas that close the eyes causing permanent vision difficulties; hemangiomas that can affect the airway and prevent breathing; hemangiomas affecting the lips and mouth preventing suction; hemangiomas that ulcerate causing such severe pain to the point of preventing sleep; hemangiomas that can occupy the liver or hemangiomas that can even cause heart failure.
Even in those cases of hemangiomas that do not pose a vital risk or that do not compromise the function of any organ, the hemangiomas are always disfiguring and, although they improve with age, in more than half of the cases they will inevitably leave unaesthetic sequelae in the form of scars, redundant skin, or in the best case an alteration of the texture of the skin.
The consequences that hemangiomas can have on the psychological development of the child are evident, especially since it is in the first years of life when they develop their body image.