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Hemangioma in Infant


Hemangiomas are benign collections of blood vessels. They are common, especially in infants. They may occur anywhere in the body. If they are in the skin or just below the skin, they are visible as a reddish or bluish discoloration. There may or may not be a bump. Hemangiomas can also occur in the deeper tissues, such as muscle or bone. Hemagiomas are NOT cancer, and it is extremely rare for one to become cancer. Many times hemangiomas do not require treatment, but many patients want them treated if the bump is very discolored and in a very obvious place, such as the face.
We do not know exactly why hemangiomas form. There is no connection between chemicals, radiation, food, medication or activity during pregnancy to cause hemangiomas.


Hemangiomas are arteries and/or veins that multiply more than they should. This collection of blood vessels forms a mass. They are usually painless, red to blue colored lesions. They are usually painless, but superficial lesions may bleed or become sore if bumped or injured.
Infantile hemangiomas are common. They may be present at birth or appear after the first few weeks of life. Usually, these hemangiomas will get bigger quickly in the first year of life and then will start to shrink.  It may take many years for the hemangioma to completely disappear. If the hemangioma does not shrink on its own, or if the hemangioma is on a very noticeable place, such as the baby’s face or head, your doctor might recommend treatment.
Hemangiomas may also occur inside muscle and bone. These deep hemangiomas may become painful.
Vascular malformations are different from hemangiomas. Vascular malformations are when clusters of blood vessels develop in arteries, veins, or lymphatic vessels. These are often present at birth and grow slowly with your child. Many of these require treatment.

Doctor Examination

Your doctor will talk to you and your child about his or her medical history as well as any symptoms. He or she will ask about any pain, such as pain with activities or during the night.
Your doctor will ask if there are any masses or lumps, and whether those areas are painful. He or she will feel and inspect the skin and region of the mass.


X-rays only show bone. They may not show a hemangioma unless there are small areas of calcium inside the hemangioma.
An MRI is often ordered because it shows soft tissues and the hemangioma is easier to see. The MRI may also be done with an angiogram, which is when dye is injected into the vessels.


Despite getting X-Rays and an MRI, sometimes the diagnosis of hemangioma cannot be made for sure unless the tissue is examined under a microscope. In order to obtain that tissue, your surgeon will need to biopsy the lesion. For most children, this involves going to the operating room. While your child is completely asleep with anesthesia, your surgeon will take a sample and look at it under the microscope with a pathologist.
Nonsurgical Treatment
Many times, the hemangioma can be observed. Your doctor will want your child to come for regular appointments to monitor any growth or change in size.
Steroids may be used to slow the growth of the mass. This may need to be injected into the hemangioma, or may be taken by mouth.
Compression with stockings and bandages can help decrease swelling but it will not make the hemangioma go away.
Some hemangiomas are candidates for embolization, which is when a substance is injected into the blood vessels to try to close them off. Sclerotherapy is when the injected substance shrinks the vessels. Embolization and sclerotherapy will help to shrink the tumor, so this can be useful before surgery. The hemangioma may regrow its blood supply, though, after embolization or sclerotherapy.
If the hemangioma is painful or very large and starting to crowd the normal tissue, your surgeon may recommend an excision. This is when the surgeon removes the hemangioma in the operating room. Even with the best excision, there is a chance that the hemangioma may come back, so your surgeon will want your child to come back for regular appointments after the surgery.


Most infantile hemangiomas will shrink on their own and require no treatment except observation. Other types of hemangiomas may require treatment, especially if associated with pain.

More Information

Benign Bone Tumors FAQs

Includes: Chondromyxoid Fibroma, Non-ossifying Fibroma, Osteochondroma and Unicameral Bone Cyst


Q. Is it cancer?

No, it is not cancer. The word “tumor” refers to any sort of abnormal growth in bone, muscle, or soft tissue. “Benign” means that the abnormal growth is a collection of normal tissue.

Q. If we remove it, will it come back?

The chance of the tumor coming back depends on the type of tumor. Solitary osteochondromas and non-ossifying fibromas have a very low risk of recurrence after complete removal. Even though they are benign tumors, unicameral bone cysts and chondromyxoid fibromas have a high risk of recurrence even after they are treated surgically. However, the risk of it coming back decreases once your child stops growing. 

Q. Will the tumor grow in size as my child grows?

 It is possible that the tumor may grow proportionally with your child grows, but this usually stops when your child stops growing.

Q. Why does my doctor need to get an X-ray, a CT scan, AND an MRI? This seems like a lot of studies. 

Each study shows something different. X-rays are fast and easy to get, and many tumors can be diagnosed from just the way it looks on the X-ray.  However, X-rays only show bone and do not show soft tissue details. Also, it can be difficult on X-ray to see the full extent of the tumor. The CT scan shows bony detail very well, and gives cross-sectional images that can help with surgical planning. MRI is used to look at the soft tissues and it can show whether the tumor is affecting any of the surrounding muscle or tissues. Your doctor will determine which of these studies are appropriate for your child.

Q. Can my child play sports?

Yes, your child may continue to play sports. However, the risk of the bone breaking through the area of the tumor increases if the size of the tumor is more than half the width of the bone.   Your doctor will provide advice about the safety of sports.