• Vol. 37 No. 3, 165–179
  • 15 March 2008

Forty-one Cervicofacial Vascular Anomalies and Their Surgical Treatment – Retrospection and Review



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Introduction: Haemangiomas in children usually involute spontaneously and surgical treatment is exceptional. Vascular malformations do not regress spontaneously and resection may become necessary. We present a series of surgically treated face and neck vascular anomalies during a 9-year period, assessing the epidemiology, presenting signs and symptoms, diagnostic modalities, indications for surgery, treatment methods and clinical outcome post-treatment.

Materials and Methods: The medical and pathological records of all patients with cervicofacial vascular anomalies treated surgically at our department from 1997 to 2005 were retrospectively reviewed in relation to current evidence.

Results: Forty-one patients were identified. Of these, 9 patients had haemangiomas and the remaining 32 had a variety of vascular malformations. Cervicofacial vascular anomalies were most commonly located at the lip. Atypical looking vascular anomalies like masseteric intramuscular haemangiomas and parotid malformations were diagnostic problems. All 41 had surgical excision of their vascular anomalies for troubling symptoms, cosmesis or diagnostic purpose. For cervicofacial arteriovenous malformations, 28% were classified as Schobinger stage I, 50% stage II, and the remainder stage III. Combined embolisation-resection was used to treat 6 arteriovenous malformations (stage II to III) and of these, 3 required flap reconstruction.

Conclusions: Accurate diagnosis distinguishing between cervicofacial haemangiomas and vascular malformations is key to best treatment. The diagnosis can usually be made by history and physical examination aided by early magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although cervicofacial haemangiomas can be managed conservatively or with medical therapy, surgery is indicated for preventing psychological distress and in cases of chronic aesthetic alteration resulting from partial regression. Aesthetic concerns and prevention of psychosocial distress point to early excision of venous malformation as the treatment of choice. Lymphatic malformations are best treated by excision. Outcome after excision of localised cervicofacial haemangiomas and low-flow vascular malformations is excellent. Large extensive low-flow malformations as well as those located at the lips may require multiple procedures including reconstruction; patients should be informed that the outcome is generally not as good. Combined embolisation-resection is definitive treatment for arteriovenous malformations and flap reconstruction may prevent their recurrence. Tissue expansion is a useful reconstructive tool after the excision of large vascular anomalies.

Vascular anomalies of the head and neck can be categorised as either haemangiomas or vascular malformations.

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