What Is Infantile Hemangioma? Its Complications And Treatment

Infantile hemangioma refers to a vascular tumor which is usually benign in nature but associated with rapid growth followed by involution phase. While in most cases hemangiomas are restricted to the skin, there can be cases of multiple hemangiomas, which may affect other organs.

The other organs that can be affected include the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, nervous system, spleen and liver.

The hemangioma at birth appears like a red macular patch which often resembles a bruise. While single lesion is fairly common, about 20% of children with hemangioma have multi-site involvements. This article provides information about infantile hemangioma, its complication and various treatment modalities.

Symptoms Of Hemangioma

Infantile hemangiomas are usually well demarcated, bright red mass which blanch on pressure. Occasionally hemangiomas may be deeper, fleshy, ill-defined and bluish in color. Some of the factors that are considered to be associated with occurrence of hemangiomas include the following,

  • Family history is considered to play a vital role in about 12% of cases of infantile hemangioma.
  • Females and individuals of the Caucasian race are more likely to develop infantile hemangioma.
  • Premature or preterm birth, increasing maternal age, multiple gestations, placenta previa, pre-eclampsia, history of maternal infertility and use of ovulation promotion techniques, etc are considered to be some of the risk factors associated with the condition.

Typically infantile hemangiomas resolve spontaneously and don’t have any symptoms, however about 24% of the cases may be associated with some form of complications. The manifestation of infantile hemangiomas without complication can be categorized into two basic subtypes,

  • Localized hemangiomas have a single focus of origin and have a clear and demarcated border.
  • Segmental hemangiomas are multi focal and display a geographic or linear pattern. These forms of hemangiomas are more likely to be associated with complications.

Infantile Hemangioma Complications

The complications associated with infantile hemangiomas can be clearly classified into three basic categories. These include the following,

  • Ulceration: This complication is associated with hemangiomas that are deeper and located on pressure prone areas of the body. These hemangiomas are associated with bleeding, which is usually minimal and pain ranging from moderate to severe depending upon the spread. Infections including osteomyelitis, septicemia and cellulitis are common.
  • Functional Impairment: Some hemangioma, especially periorbital hemangiomas are associated with functional impairment of vision. They may be associated with astigmatism due to rising pressure on the cornea, globe displacement and exophthalmos and even blindness. Hemangiomas around the ears can be associated with loss of hearing abilities and speech delays. Hemangiomas around the airways can lead to obstruction of air passage leading to hoarseness, stridor, etc. In severe cases these hemangiomas can present with life threatening conditions.
  • Permanent disfigurement: Hemangiomas can also be associated with scarring and fibrosis which can lead to permanent disfigurement of the face, lips or other parts of the body.

Treatment For Infantile Hemangioma

Treatment regimen for the management of infantile hemangiomas focuses primarily on controlling the growth, preserving functions and minimizing deformities. Surgical intervention may be required in hemangiomas that affect other organs, though skin hemangiomas are usually non critical.

Homeopathic drugs like Belledona and Sepia are useful in treating hemangiomas. Bellodana is often prescribed for bright red and well demarcated hemangiomas while Sepia is more suitable for hemangiomas having a bluish tinge and poorly demarcated. These remedies should be taken in low potency and should be repeated about five to six times during the day.

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