Vascular malformations

Birthmarks, hemangioma and vascular tumor

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Duke specialists use the latest surgical and medical advances to accurately diagnose and successfully treat complex vascular malformations, commonly and often incorrectly called birthmarks, hemangioma, salmon patch, bulky deep lesion, port-wine stain or vascular tumor. Our vascular malformations team creates a custom treatment plan for you based on your individual needs.

Expert diagnosis, coordinated treatment

Vascular malformations are abnormal clusters of blood and/or lymph vessels that form during fetal development. They can be visible on the skin at birth and vary in size, shape, color and location on the body. Other times they are not visible and do not cause symptoms until later in life. Diagnoses often encompass birthmarks, salmon patches or hemangioma, which are abnormal blood vessel lumps. Other malformations include abnormally formed capillaries or benign venous formations or circulatory lesions.

If you have a vascular malformation, you know the frustration of identification and treatment.  Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is difficult; comprehensive treatment is hard to find. Our patients often come to us after visiting many physicians with frustrating results.  Our team of highly skilled experts can correctly identify your specific condition and quickly create a comprehensive treatment plan. Our experience in a range of treatment options helps us do more than make a diagnosis.  We develop a treatment plan customized for you.

Birthmarks, hemangioma and other vascular lesions: Why choose Duke

  • Comprehensive team approach. No other hospital in the region has a dedicated vascular malformation team that routinely reviews cases and develops a treatment plan that combines expertise from multiple different specialties. Because vascular malformations can be anywhere on the body, they may require medical or surgical treatment, or another type of intervention. As a result, your team may include vascular surgeons, dermatologists, ear nose and throat specialists, orthopaedists, interventional radiologists, hematologists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, and general surgeons. Our experts undergo advanced training and certification in their specialties, and have the experience to ensure you receive the care and treatment you need.
  • International leadership.  Members of our team are leading the way in identifying, diagnosing and treating vascular malformations through their work establishing international treatment guidelines. You can be confident that your treatment plan is backed by the latest research.
  • Specialized imaging technology. Our technology identifies the type of malformation by providing images of blood flow in affected tissues and the involvement of muscles, bones, and related anatomical structures. One of the key techniques we use is dynamic-contrast enhanced DCE-MRI, which helps to provide accurate diagnoses and permits targeted treatment. Only a few centers in the world use DCE-MRI. Our radiologists created standards for its use in diagnosing these conditions. 
  • Experts in diagnosis and treatment. Few hospitals in the country have the expertise to recognize vascular malformations.  Our experience from hundreds of cases ensures you receive the best treatment available for your condition.
  • Correcting common misdiagnoses. We regularly correct problems such as inadequate or incomplete treatment that is associated with the misdiagnosis of vascular formations.
  • Commitment to patient convenience. Our expertise in complex cases and powerful imaging technology allows us to make clear, accurate recommendations. Our team of experts designs treatment plans and presents it to you during a single trip to Duke. From there, we make every effort to make your visits for treatment convenient. A dedicated patient representative keeps your family informed during the entire process.


Following initial testing and an expert assessment, we will recommend a customized treatment plan. Our commitment to treatment planning in a single, comprehensive step is a key advantage to the patient. Your treatments may include any one or a combination of the following options.


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