A hemangioma (blood sponge) is a benign tumor of blood vessels. How it originates, looks and is treated, read here!


The hemangioma (Blood Sponge, Blood Sponge) is a benign vascular tumor in newborns and infants. It shows up as a red skin patch, which can be sublime. A hemangioma can occur on all parts of the body. In some cases, it will disappear by itself. Otherwise, it can be treated by various therapies. Read all important information about the hemangioma here.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in doctor's letters or on incapacity certificates. D23D18

Product Overview


  • description

  • symptoms

  • Causes and risk factors

  • Examinations and diagnosis

  • treatment

  • Disease course and prognosis

Hemangioma: description

A hemangioma is a benign (benign) tumor of the vessels (angiodysplasia), which can be located at different depths in the skin. Colloquially, it is also referred to as Blutschwamm or Blutschwämmchen. Hemangiomas do not form metastases, but they can press organs to grow and cause symptoms.

Hemangioma: types and frequency

A sponge of blood occurs in infants and is either present from birth (congenital hemangioma) or develops during the first weeks of life (infantile hemangioma). The latter is more common than the congenital variant.

Girls are about three times more likely to be affected by a sponge than boys. About five percent of premature infants and over 20 percent of preterm infants have an infantile hemangioma.

A lymphangioma is similar to hemangioma. The difference is that a lymphangioma arises from lymphatic vessels.

Hemangioma: symptoms

Hemangiomas are mainly in the skin. Parents perceive them as red-blue dots, spots or knots. Sponges may be flat or raised. The infantile hemangioma develops in the first four weeks of life. Then it can grow until about the ninth month of life.

Segmental hemangiomas can be found areally in certain areas of the face or lower back. They are often associated with other malformations, such as brain hemangiomas or spinal malformations (such as spina bifida).

Hemangioma: causes and risk factors

The exact mechanisms that lead to a sponge are not yet fully understood. It is noticeable that hemangiomas are more common in certain families. This indicates an inheritable component in the formation of Blutschwämmchen out.

If someone has more than ten sponges, it is called hemangiomatosis. Hemangiomas of internal organs, such as the liver, are also common, so further investigations are necessary. Genetic syndromes such as the Kasabach-Merritt syndrome may also be associated with increased hemangiomas. In addition to the formation of large blood sponges on the extremities, there is a drop in the platelet count (thrombocytopenia).

Hemangioma: examinations and diagnosis

If you notice a red spot on your child's skin, visit his pediatrician with him. First of all, this will ask you in detail about the medical history (history) of the child. He will ask you the following questions:

  • When did you notice the skin change for the first time?
  • Has the size or color changed since then?
  • Was there already a hemangioma in your family?

The doctor then examines your child. He looks at the area of ​​the skin that you noticed. The rest of the skin is also searched for changes. In addition, the heart and lungs stop and check the movements of the child. This way, any associated malformations can be detected.

Further investigations

The history and clinical examination are crucial to diagnose hemangioma. Then the sponge should be photo-documented to detect changes over time. In addition, additional examinations are necessary in some cases. This includes an ultrasound examination (sonography). Hemangiomas can be detected in the abdomen such as in the liver. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be used to diagnose hemangiomas in the brain.

Hemangioma: treatment

There are several ways in which a hemangioma can be treated. When choosing the method, it depends mainly on where the Blutschwämmchen is and how big it is. A rapid therapy should be performed when the function of the tumor restricts organs, such as the eye, ear, nose, mouth, feet or hands.

Also for cosmetic (facial) or nursing (genital) reasons, rapid therapy should be initiated.

Cold and laser therapy

Small, flat hemangiomas are usually treated with cryotherapy (cryotherapy). The Blutschwämmchen are thus iced. Prior to treatment, the affected area of ​​the skin should be anesthetized with a local anesthetic patch. The same applies to a laser therapy. This can be used for very small sponges.


For larger or multiple hemangiomas, therapy with the drug propranolol is often preferred. Propranolol is a beta-blocker - a vasoconstrictor commonly used in cardiovascular diseases. It is not officially approved for hemangioma therapy, so it is used off-label because it has been discovered by chance that it works well against blood sponges.

Propranolol should be given under hospital surveillance. The dose is initially very low and then slowly increased, otherwise cardiovascular disorders may occur. In addition, the patient's heart must be examined by electrocardiography (ECG) and cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) before starting therapy. Thus, any heart disease can be detected, which speak against a therapy with propranolol.

In the past, blood sponges have also been treated with glucocorticoids (cortisone) or chemotherapeutics, but this is now considered obsolete.


An operation is indicated in case of a hemangioma, if after completion of the other therapies remains of the sponge remain or scars have arisen. If rapid functional growth of the sponge threatens acute functional restrictions, such as obstructed nasal breathing, surgery should also be performed.

Read more about the investigations

  • ABCDE rule

Hemangioma: disease course and prognosis

The prognosis is good. Infantile hemangiomas usually regress on their own, between the end of the first year of life and the ninth year of life. Often, no residues are visible. In the case of very large sponges, on the other hand:

  • scar
  • swelling
  • pigment changes
  • skin thinning
A congenital hemangioma remains more common than an infantile one. With the right therapy you can completely eliminate it.

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