Treatment of venous malformations by direct injection with ethanol

P. K. Shireman, W. J. McCarthy*, J. S.T. Yao, R. L. Vogelzang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Purpose: Venous malformations (VMs) may be discrete or extensive, and larger lesions may be difficult to remove with surgery. Incompletely removed lesions have a tendency to recur. We report our experience with ethanol ablation of VMs. Methods: All 12 patients (seven women; mean age, 37 years) were evaluated with magnetic resonance imaging before treatment. A total of 19 prior surgical excisions had been performed for seven of the patients. Symptoms were present in all 12 patients and included bleeding, pain, swelling, and limitation of exercise. The VMs were present in the lower extremities of seven patients, in the upper extremities of three patients, and in the flank and buttocks in two patients. Results: The 12 patients have undergone 30 injection procedures, with six patients requiring one, three patients requiring two, two patients requiring three, and one patient having undergone 12 treatments. General anesthesia was used in 11 patients. Blood loss was minimal for all procedures, and 28 of the 30 procedures were technically successful. Skin ulceration Was seen in approximately half of the treated VMs, all of which healed with local wound care. Focal VMs were injected in six patients and resolved with a single treatment in five patients. Patients were free of symptoms at a mean follow-up of 10 months. Extensive VMs were injected for discrete, symptomatic areas in five patients. These lesions all regressed and were asymptomatic at a mean follow-up of 23 months in all but one patient. However, these lesions required multiple treatments as additional areas became problematic. Conclusions: Ethanol sclerosis is a well-tolerated, safe, and effective adjunct to the management of VMs. Advantages of ethanol injection include the ability to treat a very localized area without an incision. Conversely, extensive lesions may be palliated as symptoms occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-844
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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