Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
A lymphatic malformation is a clump of lymph vessels that form a growing, jumbled, spongy cluster.
Lymphatic malformations are masses (unusual growths), but they are
The lymphatic (lim-FAT-ik) system is a network of tubes that collects lymph (LIMF). This clear, pale yellow fluid drains out of blood vessels all over the body. The lymphatic system returns the lymph to the bloodstream. Lymphatic malformations grow because the lymph in their vessels can’t drain out well. This makes them swell, which is known as a flare.
Lymphatic malformations also grow because they contain fragile malformed veins in their walls that bleed easily. The lymphatic malformation can fill with blood. The pooling lymph or blood stretches the vessels and cysts, making the lymphatic malformation grow larger. If it’s close to the skin surface, it can look bruised.
As a lymphatic malformation grows, it may put pressure on nearby body parts, such as the eyes, trachea (windpipe), or blood vessels. Lymphatic malformations may form inside skin, fat,
, joints, organs, or bones. They can form anywhere in the body but the brain, and are most common in the head and neck area.
There are two main types of lymphatic malformations:
A lymphatic malformation usually appears as a growing, spongy-feeling lump. A child can have more than one lymphatic malformation, but they are usually in the same area of the body.
The skin over lymphatic malformations often has small bubbles, called vesicles (VESS-ih-kuls). These look like tiny blisters. The fluid in them starts out clear and colorless, but will turn dark red if blood leaks into it. Less commonly, the vesicles are filled with milky fluid called chyle (KYE-ul).
A child with a lymphatic malformation may have:
Some symptoms are related to the area of the body affected:
Tongue, windpipe, and mouth lymphatic malformations may cause problems with:
Orbit (eye socket) lymphatic malformations may cause:
Chest lymphatic malformations may cause:
Lymphatic malformations in the gastrointestinal tract (gut) or pelvis can cause:
Lymphatic malformations of the genitourinary tract (kidney and bladder) can cause:
Lymphatic malformations in bones can cause:
Lymphatic malformations form very early in pregnancy, but doctors don’t know why. Most lymphatic malformations are thought to happen at random during the baby’s development. They’re not caused by anything a woman did or didn’t do during her pregnancy.
Some of the more severe lymphatic malformations do have genetic mutations identified. But they’re also thought to happen randomly and are not inherited.
Lymphatic malformations are more common in children with:
(genetic disorders that cause an unusual increase in the size of the body or a body part)
Lymphatic malformations may be seen on a prenatal (before birth) ultrasound scan. A lymphatic malformation not found earlier might be found when the baby is born.
Most significant lymphatic malformations are seen by age 2, after lymph fluid has built up and stretched the vessels of the lymphatic malformation or there is bleeding into it. But some aren’t found until the teen years or later.
To be sure the lump is a lymphatic malformation and not another kind of
, doctors will do an exam and order imaging tests such as:
Pediatric specialists often work together as a team to treat a child’s lymphatic malformation.
The doctors involved may include:
The team will study the lymphatic malformation’s type and location and consider the child’s age, health, and other medical problems. They’ll decide on a treatment that has the fewest side effects and risks, and offers the best results.
Things to know about treatment options:
Antibiotic treatment and drainage of the lymphatic malformation may be needed if it gets infected, which is rare.
Lymphatic malformations can grow back, so kids might need to have more than one treatment.
Kids may feel shy or embarrassed about how a lymphatic malformation looks. Be sure to support your child emotionally. It can help to find a local support group where other families can talk about what works for them. Ask your child’s care team for recommendations. You also can look online at:
Talking to a therapist can help kids and teens if they’re feeling sad or upset about a lymphatic malformation or its treatment.
An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein. Large AVMs or multiple AVMs usually needs medical treatment.
CLOVES syndrome is a very rare genetic disorder that causes vascular, skin, spinal, and bone or joint abnormalities.
A hemangioma is a growth of tangled blood vessels. Most hemangiomas grow larger for several months, then shrink slowly. Some will require treatment.
A venous malformation (VM) is a place in the body where veins haven’t grown the right way. VMs can be difficult to treat.
Interventional radiology (IR) is a way for doctors to treat problems like vascular anomalies and tumors.
The lymphatic system is an extensive drainage network that helps keep bodily fluid levels in balance and defends the body against infections.
Down syndrome is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both physically and mentally.
Noonan syndrome is a condition that some babies are born with. It causes changes in the face and chest, and usually includes heart problems.
Girls with Turner syndrome, a genetic condition, usually are shorter than average and infertile due toÂ early loss of ovarian function. Early diagnosis and treatments can help most of them.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.