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A lymphatic malformation is a lymphatic vessel that isn’t formed right. The malformations are lymphatic tissue filled with fluid (cyst). Your child may have one or more of these cysts.
Lymphatic vessels are part of the lymphatic system. This is part of the immune system. It helps fight infection and other disease. It also helps keep the fluid balance in the body. It does this by emptying extra fluid into blood vessels. This system includes:
Some lymphatic malformations affect nearby tissue. This causes problems and keeps the tissue from working as it should. For example, a malformation in the chest can cause breathing problems. These can be life-threatening.
A lymphatic malformation is a problem that your child is born with (congenital). This means that the issue happened during pregnancy, when your baby was forming. When the lymphatic vessels formed, they may have become blocked and enlarged. This could cause lymphatic fluid to build up.
This condition is more common in babies of older mothers. Babies with certain chromosome problems also have a higher risk. These can include Down syndrome and Turner syndrome.
Most of the time, your child’s healthcare provider can spot symptoms at birth. If there aren’t any symptoms at birth, they often start before your baby is 2 years of age.
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. Symptoms depend on the size of the malformation and where it is. They can include:
The symptoms of this condition may look like symptoms of other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
A healthcare provider may first see this condition in your baby during an ultrasound in pregnancy.
You may also need a MRI test during pregnancy. An MRI can show a lymphatic malformation. MRIs use large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make pictures.
After birth, your baby’s healthcare provider may diagnose a malformation during an exam. Your baby may also need the following tests.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Your baby's healthcare provider may refer your baby to a specialist for treatment. Your baby may need to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) or a surgeon. Your child may also need to see a doctor who specializes in conditions with imaging procedures (interventional radiologist) .
Your child’s healthcare provider may watch the malformation. He or she will look for signs of infection, bleeding, or increases in size
If your child has an infection, he or she will need antibiotics.
Your child may need surgery to cut out (excise) small and some large cysts. The cysts may be partly or fully removed.
Your child may get shots (injections) into the cysts. These can destroy them.
These tests destroy cysts with a laser or radio waves. These are used on small cysts or cysts in the mouth.
An untreated lymphatic malformation may cause problems. It can quickly increase in size, become infected, or bleed. Even if your child’s malformation is treated, it may come back.
Other complications depend on the location and size of the malformation. They can include:
If your child has this condition, his or her healthcare provider may watch the malformation for changes. Your child may need follow-up care after surgery or other treatments. Make sure you go to all appointments.
Your child may need special dental care. He or she may also need to be careful not to injure the affected area. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about how to manage the condition.
Call your child's health care provider if your child has trouble breathing or swallowing. If this happens suddenly, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
You should also call your child’s healthcare provider if the malformation changes in size, bleeds, or looks infected. Signs of infection include redness, warmth, swelling, pain, and drainage.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.