The management of vascular anomalies in upper and lower limbs is complex. The current practice at Birmingham Children's Hospital is based on a multidisciplinary approach, involving plastic surgeons, interventional radiologists, vascular surgeons, dermatologists and laser specialists. This study reviews the management strategies for peripheral venous malformations (VMs) and proposes a simple classification system to aid treatment.
A retrospective review was undertaken involving all paediatric patients presenting with (VMs) of the upper and lower limbs, managed by the same multidisciplinary team over a period of 3 years. A total of 33 patients were identified, of whom 19 had lesions located in the upper limb. Treatment modalities included surgery, sclerotherapy, a combination of the two and conservative management. The indications for treatment included: (1) worsening pain, (2) increased swelling, (3) reduced function, (4) bleeding or ulceration and finally, (5) cosmetic deformity. Following treatment, outcome measures with regards to the symptoms were graded into (1) improved, (2) worsened and (3) unchanged.
Based on magnetic resonance imaging, we were able to apply our classification to separate the lesions into Type 1a (superficial localised): nine, Type 1b (superficial diffused): five, Type 2 (Fascia/muscle infiltration): nine, Type 3 (Bone/joint infiltration): seven and Type 4 (Extensive whole-limb infiltration): three.
In patients with upper limb VMs (n=19), eight lesions (42%) were superficial and localised (Type 1a) while the rest were diffused lesions. In contrast, in the lower limb (n=14), only one lesion (7%) was superficial while the rest were diffused lesions. Lower success rate for treatment was noted in lower limb malformations (p<0.05). In eight patients with recurrence of symptoms, six had Type 3 (intra-articular) lesions. There was one major and three minor complications following treatment.
An outline of the management strategies for VMs in peripheral limbs is discussed in this article. An anatomical classification is described which aids in management and communication.
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Published online: December 29, 2008
Accepted: November 8, 2008
Received: August 5, 2008
© 2008 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.