What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is used to treat certain types of vascular and lymphatic malformations. The physician injects a liquid medication into the malformation. The liquid causes inflammation, and then, over time, shrinking of the malformation. Sometimes malformations become enlarged again and require repeat sclerotherapy.

How is sclerotherapy performed?

Using ultrasound for guidance, the physician will insert a small needle into the malformation. Next, the physician will inject X-ray dye (contrast) and the liquid medication (sclerosant) into the malformation. Depending on the size of the malformation, sclerosant may be injected into several sites. For larger lesions, small drainage catheters may be placed.

Will my child be awake for the procedure?

No. Depending on your child’s medical history and the location of the malformation, we will use either IV sedation or general anesthesia.

How long does the procedure take?

Approximately one hour.

What are the risks of sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is considered a low-risk procedure. However, potential complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Skin blistering, scarring or ulceration
  • Nerve damage
  • Injury to surrounding structures (skin, nerves or organs)
  • Allergic reaction to X-ray dye or sclerosant
  • Blood in the urine

Will my child have pain after the sclerotherapy?

The areas that were injected will become swollen and tender and may bruise. These effects usually last from one to 10 days. You may give your child over-the-counter pain medication. We will prescribe stronger pain medicine if necessary.

When can I remove the bandage?

Leave the bandage on for 24 hours. If drainage catheters were placed, they will be secured with a locking device (StatLock®) which must not be removed. For children with drainage catheters, the bandage should be changed only when saturated; we will explain this to you in person.

When can my child bathe?

Your child may shower or take a bath after 24 hours, when the bandage is removed. However, if drainage catheters were required, they will remain in place for approximately a week. During that time, the site must remain dry and your child may only take sponge baths.

Are there any activity restrictions?

We will discuss restrictions with you based on your child’s circumstances. Generally, your child may resume normal activity as soon as he feels comfortable doing so. If the area treated was on the leg or foot, your child must keep the leg or foot elevated for 24 hours. Crutches might be required if the procedure was performed on the foot. If compression stockings were worn prior to treatment, your child may resume wearing them in 24 hours.

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