Vascular malformations: classification and imaging

M. Anzidei

 

Introduction

Vascular malformations form a group of heterogeneous pathologies involving the arterial, venous and lymphatic vessels. Also called vascular anomalies and arteriovenous malformations, these disorders of vascular development represent a significant challenge in terms of diagnosis and treatment [1]. They may occur virtually anywhere in the body, leading to different clinical scenarios. Most vascular malformations contain a nidus, i.e. a central core in which the anomalous vessels connect with each other, and various feeding vessels that supply blood or lymph to the nidus. Diffuse vascular malformations without a nidus may also occur.

Vascular malformations differ from hemangiomas, which have histopathological characteristics of benign soft tissue neoplasms. Moreover, vascular malformations are similar, in their imaging appearance, to iatrogenic and traumatic arteriovenous fistulae, confounding the diagnostic process.

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