How would a doctor diagnose a port-wine stain?
There is no particular test for a port-wine stain.
- The diagnosis is made on the appearance of a newborn's skin.
- A biopsy is not normally necessary.
- A port-wine stain should not be confused with a 'salmon patch' or 'stork mark' that almost half of babies have, on the back of their neck in the midline. This fades over about a year and is entirely harmless.
Are any further tests done?
Because very rarely something could be wrong with the baby's brain or eyes, if a baby has a port-wine stain they are usually checked by a specialist doctor. They will probably have a brain scan and a detailed eye check.
Do they mean something else is wrong with the baby?
About 1 in 100 babies born with a port-wine stain on the face have problems of the eye or brain. If 1 in 300 babies have a port-wine stain and 1 in 100 of these have something else wrong then you can see how rare these problems are: they only affect 1 in 30,000 babies.
- Eye problems: may develop if the port-wine stain is on the eyelid area. If a child has a port-wine stain next to an eye then an eye specialist will normally check the child regularly until they are adult.
- Brain abnormalities: are an uncommon association with port-wine stains of the face. This is due to extensive blood vessel abnormalities in the brain (the Sturge-Weber syndrome). Epilepsy and other problems may then develop.
- Spine abnormalities and varicose veins: can be other associated problems.
The majority of children with port-wine stains do not have these complications.
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- Rajaratnam R, Laughlin SA, Dudley D; Pulsed dye laser double-pass treatment of patients with resistant capillary malformations. Lasers Med Sci. 2011 Apr 8.
- Klein A, Baumler W, Landthaler M, et al; Laser and IPL treatment of port-wine stains: therapy options, limitations, and practical aspects. Lasers Med Sci. 2011 Mar 10.
- Sturge-Weber Syndrome, SWS; Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM)
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