Sclerotherapy for lymphatic malformations of head and neck: Systematic review and meta-analysis

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2020 Jan;8(1):154-164. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2019.09.007. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Background: Percutaneous sclerotherapy is a commonly used modality for treatment of lymphatic malformations (LMs) of the head, face, and neck. The safety and efficacy of sclerotherapy with various agents for diverse pathologic types of LMs have not been fully established. We present the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis examining the safety and efficacy of percutaneous sclerotherapy for treatment of LMs of the head, face, and neck.

Methods: We searched PubMed, MEDLINE, and Embase from 2000 to 2018 for studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of percutaneous sclerotherapy of head, face, and neck LMs. Two independent reviewers selected studies and abstracted data. The primary outcomes were complete and partial resolution of the LM. Data were analyzed using random-effects meta-analysis.

Results: There were 25 studies reporting on 726 patients included. The overall rate of complete cure of any pathologic type of LM after percutaneous sclerotherapy with any agent was 50.5% (95% confidence interval, 36.6%-64.3%). Macrocystic lesions had a cure rate of 53.1% compared with cure rates of 35.1% for microcystic lesions and 31.1% for mixed lesions. Regarding agents, doxycycline had the highest cure rate (62.4%) compared with all other agents. Overall permanent morbidity or mortality was 1.2% (95% confidence interval, 0.4%-2.0%) with no deaths. I2 values were >50% for most outcomes, indicating substantial heterogeneity.

Conclusions: Our systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 studies and >700 patients found that percutaneous sclerotherapy is a safe and effective modality for treatment of LMs of the head, neck, and face.

Keywords: Head and neck; Lymphatic malformations; Meta-analysis; Sclerotherapy; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lymphatic Abnormalities / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphatic Abnormalities / physiopathology
  • Lymphatic Abnormalities / therapy*
  • Lymphatic System / abnormalities*
  • Lymphatic System / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphatic System / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Neck
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sclerosing Solutions / administration & dosage*
  • Sclerosing Solutions / adverse effects
  • Sclerotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Sclerosing Solutions