Merck Manual

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Lymphatic Malformations

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


Denise M. Aaron

, MD, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
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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 years.

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

  • Clinical evaluation

Diagnosis of lymphatic malformations is made clinically and by MRI as the clinical differential diagnosis may be broad.

Treatment of Lymphatic Malformations

  • Usually unnecessary

Treatment of lymphatic malformations is usually not needed. Common treatments include sclerotherapy and excision. Recurrence is common.

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