Vascular Anomalies


Vascular anomalies are best treated by specialists who work as part of a vascular anomalies multidisciplinary (MDT) team. Bran Sivakumar works as part of the vascular anomalies MDT team at Great Ormond Street Hospital which includes specialists from interventional radiology, dermatology, orthopaedics, general surgery, haematology and anaesthetics.

Vascular anomalies is a broad ‘umbrella term’ that covers a wide spectrum of congenital and acquired skin lesions. These can range from small isolated ‘birthmarks’ to more complex larger vascular masses. In the past there has been significant confusion surrounding the terminology used to describe these lesions which has made treatment harder. However over the last three decades a better understanding within this field has allowed for a more logical classification system and a more structured multidisciplinary team approach to treatment.

Vascular anomalies are generally classified as either haemangiomas or vascular malformations. Haemangiomas represent benign areas of blood vessel overgrowth that often appear as soft raised reddened swellings. In the past they have been referred to as strawberry naevi, strawberry haemangiomas or capillary haemangiomas. They usually occurs shortly after birth and rapidly expand over a period of months. This period of growth usually plateaus at around one year of age after which haemangiomas tend to shrink and fade. As a result a large majority of these lesions do not require treatment. Occasionally however haemangiomas can cause problems such as bleeding, ulceration, infection or functional issues related to their size or location.

Vascular malformations unlike haemangiomas are present at birth and do not tend to disappear over time. They tend to grow commensurately with the child and are generally classified according to their main constituent blood vessel.

The main subtypes of vascular malformations are:

Capillary malformations also known as port wine stains.

These skin lesions are made up of dilated capillaries – the smallest type of blood vessel. As a result the affected areas tend to be pink or red initially. With age they become darker in colour and can develop a more uneven surface texture as a patient goes into adolescence / adulthood. They are they are occasionally associated with other conditions. They can be effectively treated with laser therapy.

Lymphatic malformations

These malformations involve abnormalities of the lymph system and in the past have been referred to as cystic hygromas or lymphangiomas. They can present in a number of different ways ranging from small swellings to larger more ill-defined areas of overgrowth. Lymphatic malformations can be susceptible to skin changes and infections. Bleeding can also occur within them.

Venous malformations

Inborn abnormalities of veins can produce malformations of varying sizes in all areas of the body. Larger venous malformations can also be associated with abnormalities of the blood clotting system. As a result of this and their bleeding potential treatment of venous malformations must be planned very carefully.

Arterio-venous malformations (AVMS)

These are more complex vascular malformations that involve abnormal connections between the arterial and venous blood vessel system. They tend to enlarge during periods of growth and/or hormonal change such as puberty or pregnancy. They can be difficult to treat but can respond in some cases to one or a combination of medical treatment, interventional radiology and surgery.



To book an appointment with Mr Sivakumar or for more information please call 020 7432 8329 or email


Mr Sivakumar works within London’s leading children's hospitals: Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Portland Hospital for Women and Children and the Harley Street Clinic.


Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
NHS Foundation Trust


The Portland Hospital for Women and Children
205 - 209 Great Portland Street


Harley Street Clinic
79 Harley Street


Chiswick Outpatient Diagnostic Centre
Bond House
347-352 Chiswick High Road
W4 4HS

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