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What is a Cavernous Hemangioma?

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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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Hemangiomas are abnormal accumulation or growth of blood vessels in the internal organs or in the skin. Most hemangiomas occur at birth while others develop after birth. There are two types of hemangiomas — the capillary hemangioma and the cavernous hemangioma. A capillary hemangioma is usually seen at the top layer of the skin, while the cavernous hemangioma is often found at the deeper layer. Some patients, however, may present with both types.

The cavernous hemangioma, also known as cavernoma, occurs less commonly than the capillary hemangioma. It is a benign tumor of blood vessels that rapidly grows over a period of time and does not usually reduce in size. Most cavernous hemangiomas are usually soft to the touch, and do not present much significance. In some cases however, their presence may become locally destructive and can cause cosmetic disturbances.

A cavernous hemangioma usually occurs in the skin along the neck and face area, and manifests as a reddish raised lesion. When it develops in the brain or liver, the presentation of symptoms generally varies. Seizures, changes in vision, diminished facial function, and swallowing difficulty are some of the manifestations of a cavernous hemangioma in the brain. In severe cases, it can rupture, cause bleeding in the brain and if not treated immediately, can even lead to death. The growth of a cavernous hemangioma in the liver usually presents with liver enlargement or hepatomegaly.

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Causes for the development of cavernous hemangioma are still unknown, but genetic predisposition may play a role. The disorder commonly appears in individuals between 20 and 30 years old, although a small number of cases are seen during birth. Diagnosis is usually done by pediatricians, doctors who treat children, and internists, doctors who treat diseases of adults. Imaging studies such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are the diagnostic tools frequently performed to determine the presence of lesions in internal organs.

The first treatment option for a cavernous hemangioma is observation of the lesion, as most cases do not affect the proper functioning of the body. Lesions that grow on the skin and cause disfigurement, however, are frequently recommended for surgical removal. In some cases where the lesion is located in the brain or other internal organs, surgery is also often recommended. Physicians also use steroids to reduce the size of the mass and the swelling of the affected body parts.

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