Vascular Malformations

There are several different types of vascular malformations. These include arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), venous malformations (VMs), and lymphatic malformations (LMs). Arteriovenous malformations arise from an abnormal communication between an artery and a vein at a spot called the nidus.

The blood circulating within the malformation flows very fast. AVMs can steal blood from critical parts of the body, and they can cause pain, bleeding, wounds, and even heart failure if left untreated. 

Unlike AVMs, VMs and LMs have a very slow or absent flow. They can cause abnormal growth of the bones and muscles surrounding their location, and VMs can form clots within them that may go to the lungs. Our interventional radiologists are leaders in treating patients with these malformations. 

Treatment for Vascular Malformations

Arteriovenous malformations are typically treated by guiding a tiny catheter within the blood vessels into the abnormal area and delivering a special type of “glue” to shut down the abnormal communication between the artery and the vein. This redirects the blood flow into the normal vessels.

Venous and lymphatic malformations are typically treated very differently – by injecting a chemical called a “sclerosant” directly into the abnormal area, causing the area to shrink and usually making the symptoms improve. It is not uncommon for multiple treatments to be necessary to achieve the desired result when treating any of these malformations.

Each of these procedures is minimally invasive and requires, at most, the placement of a small catheter into a blood vessel. Other treatment options may include surgery by a plastic surgeon.

Preparing for Vascular Malformation Treatment

Vascular malformation treatments are performed with general anesthesia or conscious sedation, a process in which you are given medication to make you sleepy but not unconscious. The necessary anesthesia requires that you not eat a meal for eight hours before the procedure.

Most medications can be taken the morning of the procedure except for medications that affect blood clotting (aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, etc). If you are taking one of these medications, you may need to stop taking it or be switched to another medicine for a few days before the procedure. This will be coordinated by your doctor, if necessary.

What to Expect After Vascular Malformation Treatment

After the procedure, you should expect to be given appropriate pain medications if you are having any procedure-related pain. You may need to stay overnight, depending on how you are doing after the procedure, but most people go home the same day.

It is important to understand that vascular malformations typically require an average of two to three treatments to achieve the treatment goal.

How We’re Different

Our interventional radiologists are specialists in treating vascular malformations and the areas of the body in which they occur. In addition to the training that all radiologists receive, these specialists have additional fellowship training in interventional radiology, plus extensive real-world experience.

Our team of interventional radiologists and physician assistants coordinates your complete care – from imaging evaluation to post-procedure follow-up – maintaining a high level of communication with you throughout the process.

In addition, we coordinate closely with experts from across the UT Southwestern community when necessary.

Request an Appointment

To meet with an interventional radiologist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas, or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.