When it comes to treating vascular cutaneous lesions, which include vascular anomalies and hemangiomas, the approach by the experts at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan is truly unique.
DMC Children’s is unique as the only center in Michigan with a vascular anomalies team, bringing all the specialists together to see the patient and build a treatment plan that is the most comprehensive and up-to-date.
The team includes chief pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Arlene Rozzelle, pediatric interventional radiologist Dr. Cris Becker, and pediatric dermatologists Dr. Tor Shwayder and Dr. Fasahat Hamzavi.
Eighteen-year-old Aishah is one patient who is benefiting from their expertise. She has a painful vascular anomaly in her hand that is limiting movement. Vascular anomalies are abnormal growths of blood vessels that can be treated with pressure garments, therapy or, rarely, surgery.
Vascular anomalies aren’t nearly as common as hemangiomas, the other type of malformation that falls into the category of vascular cutaneous lesions. Hemangiomas are benign tumors of blood vessels that only grow in newborn babies, for reasons unknown.
Typically, there is a small pink area on the baby’s body, and a few weeks after delivery, the area may start to swell, or it may look like a strawberry – they are sometimes called “Strawberry birthmarks.”
Most are small, and do not ulcerate (bleed), causing no discomfort or trouble. Over times, these will not require treatment. However, there are hemangiomas that will cause difficulties, based upon their size and/or location: in the diaper area,, on the leg or abdomen, or the face.
“When we see a newborn with amore serious hemangioma that is going to cause problems with vision, airway, or eating, we’re going to treat that much more aggressively,” says Dr. Rozelle.
Three-year-old Annika is being treated by the vascular anomalies team due to the complicated nature of her condition. She has Sturge-Weber Syndrome, affecting her vision and brain function. Part of the condition is a port wine stain on the right side of her face. DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan doctors are treating the port wine stain with regular laser treatment to reduce the redness.
Before and after each case, Dr. Rozzelle and the vascular anomalies team meet to discuss each patient’s needs and options. The benefits of this multidisciplinary approach are many: the patient sees multiple specialists at once; doctors can share experience and work together to provide the best treatment.