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General Practice 2023

Hemangioma: what é, why it happens and treatment

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Hemangioma: what é, why it happens and treatment
Hemangioma: what é, why it happens and treatment

Hemangioma is a benign tumor formed by the abnormal accumulation of blood vessels, which can appear in different parts of the body, but is more common in the skin, face, neck, scalp and trunk., leading to the appearance of a swollen area with a reddish or purplish spot. However, hemangiomas can vary greatly in size, shape, and color.

According to the period in which it appears, hemangioma can be classified into:

  • Congenital hemangioma: is identified at birth or during pregnancy through ultrasound;
  • Infantile hemangioma: appears in the first 2 weeks of life, and can grow until the first year of age.

In most cases, the hemangioma gradually reduces after the first year of life and, therefore, no type of treatment is usually necessary, since the hemangioma also does not cause major complications, nor does it turn into cancer.

Why does it happen?

The specific reason for the appearance of hemangiomas is not known, however, this alteration seems to be more frequent in girls, in premature babies and in cases in which the pregnant woman had to undergo invasive tests during pregnancy, such as a placental biopsy or aspiration of amniotic fluid, for example.

Main types of hemangioma

The main types of hemangioma include:

  • Hemangioma in the liver: is a type of benign tumor that arises in the liver and does not cause symptoms, being detected in routine exams. Understand better what liver hemangioma is and when it can be serious;
  • Capillary hemangioma: is the most common type of hemangioma and is usually located in the upper layer of the skin, causing a bright red spot to appear;
  • Cavernous hemangioma: occurs when there is a malformation of blood vessels that causes the vessels to be more dilated than normal. It usually appears in deeper layers of the skin, causing swelling and a purplish blotch;
  • Flat hemangioma: is seen on the skin as flat burgundy spots that, from the age of 20, can increase, forming nodules that can bleed.

Generally, flat or cavernous hemangiomas are congenital, that is, the baby is born with them. Find out about other causes of a red spot on your baby's skin.

Does hemangioma cause symptoms?

The only hemangioma that usually causes some type of symptom is hemangioma that develops on the skin, as it leads to the appearance of a slightly swollen patch with a reddish or purplish color.

Haemangiomas that develop in organs, such as the liver and kidneys, or in the spine, for example, generally do not present any specific symptoms, being identified when performing a routine examination, such as ultrasound, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging.

Although it is not serious and malignant transformation is rare, depending on the location of the hemangioma, there may be impairment in the development of some functions and, therefore, it should always be evaluated by a physician. When present near the eye, it can impair vision development, for example.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for hemangioma is almost always done only with the surveillance of the problem by the doctor, as it is common for the hemangioma to disappear on its own over time. In some cases, the doctor may recommend consulting another specialist, such as a hepatologist to evaluate and monitor the hemangioma in the liver, or the dermatologist, for the hemangioma in the skin, for example.

Surgery for hemangioma is advised mainly when the tumor causes complications such as airway obstruction, when it interferes with vision or hearing, or when it makes it difficult for the heart to work, and it is necessary to remove excess vessels and relieve symptoms. In addition, surgery can also be used in some cases just to improve the cosmetic appearance.

Before surgery, the doctor may recommend treatments such as laser therapy or sclerotherapy, capable of reducing blood flow and eliminating some vessels, or the use of medications, such as corticosteroids or beta-blockers, which can reduce the proliferation of vessels, chosen depending on the characteristics of each case.

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