Hemangioma on baby skin, lips, liver and spine: symptoms, causes and treatments.

Hemangioma, the clue is in the name. Hemo or Haemo is the prefix for anything connected to blood, for instance, haematology, haemoglobin and hematoma. Hemangioma is a collective name for growths on a blood vessel, usually found where there is an unusual or exceptional concentration of veins or arteries. They are mostly exterior to the vessel and do not impede circulation or cause embolization effectively blocking the pathway of the blood.

A Hemangioma may be external, visible anywhere on the skin or internal on a major organ, within the digestive tract and are even found on the brain. People worry that these benign tumours will turn cancerous but they are rarely carcinogenic. More common in babies and children, some spontaneously disappear requiring no treatment. They can develop in adulthood but this is a lower likelihood. Roughly half of hemangiomas are absent by age five years and almost 90% by nine years old.

Take a look at some of our pictures illustrating perfectly what a hemangioma may look like in different locations on the body.

How would I know if I had a hemangioma on my liver?

You probably wouldn’t know as they do not commonly exhibit symptoms of pain when sited on key organs. Averaging around 4 centimetres, they may be isolated examples or present in small multiples. A hemangioma is often discovered during biopsy or surgery for some other purpose. Other names for a hemangioma on the liver are a cavernous hemangioma and hepatic hemangioma.

Medical experts have not yet reached a conclusion as to what causes hemangiomas on the liver. Some suggest that it is hereditary and further, a possible connection with oestrogen explaining why liver hemangiomas occur more commonly in women than men. Any synthetic hormone involvement i.e. the contraceptive pill or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) during the menopause may impact on pre-existing, silent hemangioma but even those circumstances will probably not require any intervention.

Horrors, my daughter has a suspected hemangioma on her lip, what can I do?

Fortunately, to find a hemangioma on the lip is rare and initially, most doctors will usually observe to see if it resolves spontaneously. There may be pressure to intervene for cosmetic reasons especially if the patient is female and around puberty where physical appearance is challenging. The perceived disfigurement of hemangioma on the lip can cause emotional and psychological distress which merits earlier resolution than might otherwise be the case. A larger hemangioma can cause discomfort and restrict different functions such as eating, cleaning teeth and kissing! Surgical removal is an option although it can be tricky to maintain the unique vermilion colouring of the lips post operatively.

I have some red, lumpy lesions and think they might be hemangioma of the skin

Skin changes of any manifestation should always be checked out by a doctor to identify them and highlight a course of treatment if appropriate. Hemangioma is often confused with birthmarks or port wine stains due to their appearance and deep red/purple colour. The richness of colouration usually indicates the depth of the growth. Hemangioma of the skin can ebb and reduce of their own volition; if it/they are not visibly evident and not prominent, then the likely decision will be to leave them alone providing they are not interfering with a vital structure.

A hemangioma that is either noticeable and unsightly or protuberant or both may be removed. Hemangiomas that sit proud of the body can be repeatedly knocked or caught in clothing and risk damage, repeated bleeding and ulceration. Hemangioma of the skin generally proliferates on the face and ears and there are two distinct categories. Deeper skin growths are termed cavernous hemangiomas and the superficial equivalent, capillary hemangioma.

How do clinicians diagnose hemangioma?

Visible hemangioma is mostly diagnosed simply on presentation. Sometimes an ultrasound scan is used to establish the extent of the hemangioma.

Does Hemangioma ever occur on the spine?

The most common sections of the back for Hemangioma on the spine are the thoracic and lumbar sections rather than the cervical or upper spine. The spinal column is tightly packed with vertebra, discs, blood vessels and nerve endings, there is little room for an extra structure and consequently, Hemangioma on the spine frequently interfere with motor function and locomotion. If they impede nerves then they can also cause pain and discomfort. It is common to remove Hemangioma of the spine if they are causing problems although, on occasion, they simply don’t grow large enough to present an issue.

Hemangioma on a baby

Divided into two classes, congenital meaning present from birth and infantile indicating development within a short period following delivery, probably the first few days or weeks. Most Hemangiomas on babies grow quickly for a period of several months, probably no longer than one year, then stabilise before shrinking. A midwife or paediatrician will observe and monitor a Hemangioma on an infant or growing child as with any other noted abnormality. Because the prospect is the Hemangioma will eventually vanish, it is usually left untouched unless it is compromising some other anatomical function.



Article References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3519226/