What is a lymphatic malformation?

“Lymph” is a fluid that carries white blood cells and circulates throughout the body in lymph glands. A lymphatic malformation involves enlarged or abnormal lymph glands which can interfere with the lymph system in the body and alter the appearance of the surface of the skin.

What are the symptoms of a lymphatic malformation?

Most commonly, lymphatic malformations look like bumpy lesions that are red, pink, purple, black, and/or brown in color. They are usually no more than an inch in diameter or smaller but can become quite large or can affect more than one area. They often are found on the mouth, neck, shoulders, armpits, or limbs. More rarely, lymphatic malformations reach beyond the surface of the skin and deeper into lymph glands, which can cause significant interference with the circulation of lymph throughout the body and may interfere with breathing, eating, and/or speaking.

How are lymphatic malformation diagnosed?

A full physical exam and blood tests will be conducted. Imaging like traditional X-rays; angiography, which uses an injectable dye and X-rays; computed tomography (CT) scan, which produces a three dimensional view of the scanned area; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed organ and tissue mapping.

How are lymphatic malformations treated?

Treatment will depend on the size, extent, and symptoms of your child’s lymphatic malformation. Lasers may remove malformations from the tongue or airway. Sclerotherapy, a procedure used to treat blood vessels or blood vessel malformations, can help minimize or eliminate large cysts. Interferon may help control the growth of the malformation.

About treatment for lymphatic malformations at Children’s

Lymphatic malformations are commonly treated through Children’s Vascular Anomalies Center, which is located on our Minneapolis campus. By coordinating experts from several pediatric disciplines into a single visit, families experience a new level of convenience in an environment focused exclusively on pediatrics. Every child is assigned a pediatric nurse case manager who coordinates all treatment and communication between care providers and the family.

Contact Us

For consultation, referral, or an appointment, call the Vascular Anomalies Center at 612-813-7100.