Vascular Malformations

If you or your child has a vascular malformation, you’ll find expert treatment at UNC Medical Center. We’re home to the only clinic in the Southeastern United States that regularly brings together specialists from 14 adult and pediatric medical departments to provide seamless multidisciplinary care for these conditions.

Vascular Malformations We Treat

Most vascular malformations are benign conditions present at birth, but some may progress to create problems such as blood clots, pain, heaviness, disfigurement and bleeding. You can find help at any stage for conditions including:

  • Hemangioma – A buildup of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs, often known as “strawberries” or “stork bites” due to their pink color

  • Capillary malformation (CM) – A birthmark also known as a port-wine stain because of the pink/red/purple discoloration of the skin

  • Lymphatic malformation (LM) – Large, soft masses, usually in the neck, armpit or groin area

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM) – Painful abnormal connections between arteries and veins

  • Venous malformations (VM) – Enlarged sponge-like channels in and around the veins

  • Combined vascular malformations – Complex malformations that involve more than one of the above types

Multidisciplinary Care at the Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic

When you come to the UNC Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic for treatment, your physician team will work together to identify each area of the body affected by your condition. Then we’ll create a treatment plan tailored to your age, symptoms, type of malformation and expected future issues.

Even though you’ll see specialists from multiple departments, your initial consultation will happen in just one day in order to reduce the number of return visits. Depending on your age and condition, you may see:

  • A hematology-oncology physician, who makes a diagnosis, evaluates you for blood clotting problems and determines if any medications are appropriate

  • A dermatologist, who determines the type of malformation and performs a skin biopsy if necessary, creates a plan for any skin-related birthmarks and performs laser treatments

  • A geneticist, who checks to see if there are any inheritable causes for your malformation and whether it’s part of a syndrome

  • Specialists who assist in the management of malformation-related symptoms affecting certain organs, such as the heart, lungs, digestive tract or kidneys

  • Interventional radiologists, who perform image-guided treatments

  • Surgical teams, who perform surgical removal of the malformation when appropriate and obtain tissue for biopsy

You’ll also benefit from physical and occupational therapists, lymphedema specialists and nurses with extensive knowledge of vascular malformations and their treatments.

Treatment Offers Relief After Years of Pain

Darlene Pitcher had always been told there was no treatment available for the large red stain on her right arm and shoulder. As she grew older, the pain of her “birthmark” progressed, and she sought treatment from physicians across the country. Eventually, she was referred to the UNC Hemangioma and Vascular Malformations Clinic, where physicians diagnosed her conditions and created a multidisciplinary plan to manage her conditions and ease her pain. Read more about Darlene’s experience and why her husband, Jimmy, says, “We are very happy to have found the doctors at UNC.”

Contact Us

Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 866-862-4327 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

Open Access is a new physician referral service, created by the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, which coordinates all admissions and transfers through a single phone call and guarantees immediate acceptance for patients. Please contact us to learn more or call 866-862-4327.

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