Current concepts in the classification, diagnosis and treatment of hemangiomas and vascular malformations of the head and neck

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2001 Mar;258(3):141-9. doi: 10.1007/s004050100318.


There are many different classifications of vascular anomalies. As the correct classification of the vascular lesion has a direct influence on therapy it is difficult to decide which treatment should be considered as the treatment of choice. Based on an extensive review of the literature and personal experience of the treatment of more than 200 patients with hemangiomas or vascular malformations of the head and neck, a clinical classification is described that allows vascular lesions to be categorized in order to plan purposeful treatment. In general, hemangiomas represent the main group of vascular lesions in infancy and childhood. They are usually apparent a few weeks after birth and are characterized by an initially rapid growth of epithelial cells, followed by spontaneous involution. Hemangiomas should be differentiated from vascular malformations that are present at birth but may not be evident clinically. Spontaneous involution of vascular malformations has never been reported, whereas laser therapy can induce involution of hemangiomas at an early stage in a majority of cases. In certain situations steroids or surgical removal may seem to be the appropriate therapy of choice. In contrast, vascular malformations have to be treated according to their histopathology and location, as well as their hemodynamic features as shown radiographically with angiography. The accurate diagnosis of vascular anomalies is essential for further treatment, as shown by clinical experience at the University of Marburg.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Malformations / classification
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnosis*
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / pathology
  • Arteriovenous Malformations / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Head / blood supply*
  • Hemangioma / classification
  • Hemangioma / diagnosis*
  • Hemangioma / pathology
  • Hemangioma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / classification
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / surgery