Vascular Anomalies Center | When to See a Specialist

Vascular anomalies represent a rare set of conditions, often appearing and behaving differently from patient to patient. Many of these anomalies, however, have one thing in common: the need for specialized, interdisciplinary care from clinicians with experience in the management of these disorders.

Some vascular anomalies, such as a small, single hemangioma, are not likely to require any intervention; your pediatrician may be able to monitor the tumor, provide support and reassurance, and contact a vascular anomalies specialist if the situation warrants.

However, you should seek out a vascular anomalies specialist if:

  • your pediatrician has little or no experience with vascular anomalies
  • your child has multiple lesions
  • the diagnosis is unclear
  • your child's vascular disorder is complex

Ideally, vascular anomalies specialists work in interdisciplinary teams whose primary or sole focus is the diagnosis and treatment of these rare conditions. Generally speaking, such teams are to be found in major pediatric teaching hospitals, such as Boston Children's Hospital.

Interdisciplinary Management

Because vascular anomalies often affect many organ systems, an interdisciplinary approach to the care of children with complex vascular anomalies is especially important. This means that your child should be cared for by specialists who represent several different areas of medical expertise, such as:

  • surgeons
  • interventional radiologists
  • dermatologists
  • radiologists
  • gastroenterologists
  • hematologist/oncologist

Working together, such interdisciplinary teams leverage their combined expertise to achieve the best possible results.

To find a hospital that has a vascular anomalies team, ask your pediatrician, contact the nearest major pediatric teaching hospital or contact Boston Children's Hospital for an appointment.

Questions You Should Ask

Here are some questions you should ask of your clinician(s) before deciding where your child will receive care:

  • Do you use a team approach?
  • If so, what specialists participate in the evaluation?
  • Do you meet regularly as a team to discuss each patient's care?
  • How much experience do you/the team have in evaluating and treating vascular anomalies?
  • How many patients with vascular anomalies do you/the team treat every year?
  • How many individuals have you/your team cared for with my child's specific condition? Who will be our primary contact throughout our child's treatment? Will this person be readily available to us when we want information?

These and other questions should help you find the vascular anomalies specialist/team that can provide your child with the best possible care.