MRI Spots Vessel Trouble

Provides guidance, improves treatment of low-flow vascular malformations

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TUESDAY, Oct. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect and define low-flow vascular malformations -- such as birthmarks -- may help improve treatment, says a study in the November issue of Radiology.

Low-flow vascular malformations are birthmarks or growths that consist of enlarged veins. In most cases, these vascular malformations remain stable throughout a person's life. But some worsen and cause bleeding, disfigurement or functional impairment.

A process called percutaneous sclerotherapy is used to treat low-flow vascular formations. A sclerosing agent is injected into the malformation, causing the swollen veins to constrict.

But treatment can be difficult because the veins may be poorly defined and there may be small extensions that may be overlooked.

This study found an MRI can be used during percutaneous sclerotherapy to detect affected veins.

"Under MR imaging, they're as bright as light bulbs. Detecting and delineating these malformed veins becomes extremely simple," study co-author Dr. Jonathan S. Lewin, a professor of radiology and radiology department chairman at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"We can use MR guidance to place the needle, to determine how much therapeutic mixture is needed to fill the malformation, and to monitor the therapeutic agent as it is injected. The real benefit for the patient is the ability to ensure that the entire malformation is being treated," Lewin said.

More information

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has more about sclerotherapy.

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, Oct. 26, 2004

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