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Lymphatic Malformations

(Lymphangioma; Lymphangioma Circumscriptum; Cystic Hygroma; Cavernous Lymphangioma)

By Denise M. Aaron, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery; Staff Physician, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; Veterans Administration Medical Center, White River Junction

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Lymphatic vascular malformations are elevated lesions composed of dilated lymphatic vessels.

Most lymphatic malformations are present at birth or develop within the first 2 yr.

Lesions are usually yellowish tan but occasionally reddish or purple if small blood vessels are intermingled. Puncture of the lesion yields a colorless or blood-tinged fluid.

Diagnosis of lymphatic malformations is made clinically and by MRI.


  • Usually unnecessary

Treatment of lymphatic malformations is usually not needed. If the lesion is excised, recurrence is common, even when removal of dermal and subcutaneous tissues is extensive.

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