Sclerotherapy of craniofacial venous malformations: complications and results

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999 Jul;104(1):1-11; discussion 12-5.


Of all vascular anomalies, venous malformations are the most common, and they have a propensity for the head and neck. The authors retrospectively analyzed 40 patients with craniofacial venous malformations who underwent sclerotherapy between October of 1994 and June of 1996 to determine (1) the results of sclerotherapy with ethanol and/or sodium tetradecyl sulfate, (2) the types and rate of complications, and (3) whether outcome correlated with age, sex, location, size, tissues involved, morphology (lobular or varicose), venous outflow, or number of sclerotherapy sessions. The authors also reviewed the results after sclerotherapy and contour resection (n = 18). Comparisons between the results with ethanol and sodium tetradecyl sulfate and between sclerotherapy alone and sclerotherapy and resection combined were not done. The study was composed of three parts. They were (1) a review of records and imaging studies, (2) a panel evaluation of pretreatment and posttreatment photographs, and (3) a questionnaire that determined the patient's (or parent of the patient's) impression of therapy. Interrater and intrarater agreement were analyzed. Sclerotherapy was performed in an angiographic suite, under general anesthesia, using absolute ethanol and/or sodium tetradecyl sulfate. Complications of the treatment included acute blistering (50 percent), hemoglobinuria (28 percent), deep ulceration (13 percent), and nerve injury (7.5 percent). Two patients suffered transient facial paresis, and one had permanent unilateral vocal cord paralysis. Thirty patients (75 percent) were rated as having marked improvement or as being cured by all three members of the panel; 10 patients (25 percent) were rated as having no change or only slight improvement by one or more members of the panel. Interrater reliability was moderately positive, and intrarater reliability was highly positive. Thirty-seven patients or parents of patients (93 percent) responded to the questionnaire. The outcome was considered to be marked improvement or cured in 28 patients (76 percent), and nine respondents (24 percent) described only minor improvement or no change. Logistic regression analysis revealed that only male sex and number of sclerotherapeutic procedures were significant multivariate predictors of outcome. Size, location, tissues involved, morphology, or venous outflow were not determinant. In conclusion, sclerotherapy with ethanol or sodium tetradecyl sulfate is an effective and safe treatment for craniofacial venous malformations. Often, sclerotherapy has to be repeated. For extensive perioral malformations, combined sclerotherapy and resection give the best result.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / surgery
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / surgery
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / therapy*
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sclerosing Solutions / therapeutic use
  • Sclerotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Sodium Tetradecyl Sulfate / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veins / abnormalities*


  • Sclerosing Solutions
  • Ethanol
  • Sodium Tetradecyl Sulfate