What is a Venous Angioma?

Eric Stolze

A venous angioma of the brain is a group of veins that are tangled and malformed. These malformations often occur in draining veins in the brain’s deep white matter. The veins typically lack smooth muscle cells and tend to enlarge or dilate as they drain blood away from parts of the brain. Venous malformations can have a bluish appearance, while others may be maroon red or have no color at all in some instances.

Taking birth control pills may cause a venous angioma to enlarge.
Taking birth control pills may cause a venous angioma to enlarge.

In most cases, a venous angioma does not cause symptoms. These angiomas are typically discovered when a patient undergoes a medical imaging scan of the brain such as a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scan for another medical reason. A venous angioma rarely bleeds and rarely requires treatment. Surgical removal of a venous angioma includes risks of complications such as a stroke that usually do not warrant this type of treatment.

A venous angioma will likely be discovered when a patient undergoes a brain MRI for different medical reasons.
A venous angioma will likely be discovered when a patient undergoes a brain MRI for different medical reasons.

Venous malformations may occur in other parts of the body such as the skin, bones or muscles as well as organs of the body such as the liver, spleen or colon. Most venous malformations are present at birth, but may not become visible until later. Some venous malformations may bleed suddenly, and these formations can enlarge due to an injury. Pregnant women may experience enlargement of a venous malformation, and women who use birth control pills may also notice growth of these lesions.

Venous angiomas are located in the brain.
Venous angiomas are located in the brain.

A venous malformation that occurs in a critical area such as the eyes, face or neck may benefit from treatment. Smaller venous malformation lesions can be removed with a laser in some situations. Some doctors may perform surgical removal of some or all of a lesion. Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure where a physician typically injects a chemical solution into a lesion to shrink it.

Surgical removal may be required to treat a venous angioma.
Surgical removal may be required to treat a venous angioma.

Patients may develop several distinct types of venous malformations besides a venous angioma. A glomovenous malformation is a skin lesion that typically includes glomus cells, smooth muscle-related cells that cause these lesions to become tense. These formations are usually painful and bluish-purple in color and may be seen nearly anywhere on the body. Glomovenous malformations are often inherited and tend to run in families.

Small venous angiomas may respond to laser treatments.
Small venous angiomas may respond to laser treatments.

Blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome is a type of venous malformation that typically grows on the skin of the limbs or trunk. These lesions tend to be blue in color and usually develop as multiple formations. Some blue rubber bleb nevus lesions can grow in the stomach or intestinal tract, where they can cause abdominal pain or bleeding in some instances. Physicians usually treat these lesions with endoscopic treatment and surgical removal.

Most of the time, venous malformations will be present at birth, even if they aren't visible until later.
Most of the time, venous malformations will be present at birth, even if they aren't visible until later.

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