Children's Hospital Colorado

Services We Offer for Vascular Anomalies

Our multidisciplinary team collaborates with a range of medical experts to pioneer new and effective ways of treating vascular anomalies.

The Vascular Anomalies Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado provides a range of testing and services to provide comprehensive treatment for vascular tumors and malformations. We use advanced imaging equipment and work with a team of specialized radiologists to ensure the most accurate diagnosis of your child’s vascular anomaly. Before our multidisciplinary team formulates a customized treatment plan for your child, we discuss it with you, so you and your family have all the information related to your child’s vascular anomaly. After weighing the options, we work with you to carry out the most effective treatment plan.

At Children’s Colorado, our evaluations are designed to consider the age and size of our pediatric patients, which is important when performing imaging tests. By customizing each of our tests, we ensure the highest quality images, which then translates to an accurate diagnosis and the most appropriate treatment. If we need to use sedation or anesthesia, our expert pediatric anesthesiologists take the unique characteristics of your child into account to ensure the dosage is no more than necessary. Our child life team is also available to make sure your child feels safe and comfortable before any test or procedure begins.

Where to find imaging services for vascular anomalies

The Vascular Anomalies Center is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, but we have several affiliate centers along the Front Range equipped to perform the same high-quality imaging tests. Our team can also discuss options for continuing care at these centers on a case-by-case basis.

When available and appropriate, telehealth allows established patients to remotely communicate with our team from places like Glenwood Springs and Montrose.

Tests and treatments designed just for kids with vascular anomalies

Imaging tests

Radiologic imaging is one of the most important tools we use to diagnose and understand your child’s vascular anomaly. Imaging tests allow us to see what is happening beneath the skin and can tell us how the anomaly may be connected to other tissues and organs. These tests are vital to helping us make an accurate diagnosis and plan treatment. For any machine that requires radiation to create the image, such as an X-ray, we always use the least amount of radiation possible for your child.

  • Ultrasonography: a method using sound waves to produce an image of the structures within the body
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a method using a magnetic field and radio waves to create a detailed image of organs and tissues within the body
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): a type of MRI that uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to show the blood vessels inside the body
  • Magnetic resonance lymphangiography (MRL): a type of MRI that uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to show the lymphatic system, a network of vessels that is part of the vascular system and immune system
  • X-ray: a method of imaging that uses radiation to show the internal structure of the body
  • Venography: a type of X-ray that uses a contrast liquid, or dye, to show how blood flows through veins
  • Angiography: a type of X-ray that uses a contrast liquid, or dye, to show how blood flows through arteries
  • Lymphangiography: a type of X-ray that uses a contrast liquid, or dye, to show how blood flows through lymphatic system
  • Lymphoscintigraphy: a procedure that uses a small amount of radioactive material to show the lymphatic system using a camera that can detect where the radioactive materials are in the body

Diagnostic tests

  • Laboratory tests: testing of the blood or urine to check for any infections present in the body and to check if the organs are functioning properly
  • Biopsy: a procedure to remove a tissue sample and examine it under a microscope
  • Genetic testing: testing the DNA to determine if a hereditary disease or syndrome is present in the patient
  • Electromyography (EMG): a technique of using electrical pulses to assess the health of muscles and nerve cells

Common treatment and therapy options for vascular anomalies

Treatment options vary widely for vascular anomalies based on their location, size and the depth they extend into tissue and organs. Here are some of the treatment options we may recommend:

  • Medicines: Below are some of the common medicines that we use to treat vascular anomalies:
    • Propranolol: a medicine used to treat infantile hemangiomas to limit their growth
    • Sirolimus: an immunosuppressant that we use in a mild form to help control the growth of certain types of vascular anomalies
    • Anticoagulation: a medicine that thins the blood, which can relieve pain caused by the pressure of blood flowing through irregular blood vessels
    • Chemotherapeutic agents: medicines, such as vincristine, that help control the growth of vascular tumors
    • Experimental therapies: new drugs and treatments currently being researched by Children’s Colorado to address various vascular anomalies
  • Sclerotherapy: the method of injecting a solution into a vein or lymphatic to cause it to collapse
  • Cryoablation or cryotherapy: the process of using extreme cold to freeze off or kill tissue
  • Embolization: the process of injecting a substance such as glue, alcohol or coils into a blood vessel to stop the flow of blood to the area
  • Laser therapy: a method of destroying tissue using low-powered lasers
  • Surgery: the method of physically removing a vascular anomaly using carefully crafted surgical techniques

Recovery after vascular anomaly treatment

Treating vascular anomalies sometimes means that doctors must destroy or remove tissue affected by the malformation or tumor. As part of the treatment, we must also work to help children recover from these types of treatments and heal to their fullest potential.

  • Physical therapy: therapy designed to improve your child’s movement and range of motion
  • Occupational therapy: therapy designed to improve your child’s ability to perform activities associated with daily life
  • Wound care: a method of using therapies and techniques to eliminate infection and minimize scarring to ensure the healthy healing of a wound