Lymphatic sclerotherapy is a procedure used to treat lymphatic malformations. Lymphatic malformations (sometimes referred to as cystic hygromas) are a collection of small cysts. A medicine is injected into the cysts, which irritates them encouraging them to scar and shrink.
The medicine injected into the lymphatic malformation may make the area swell over the first week or two. The area may also be slightly red and feel hotter than the surrounding skin. These effects are normal and show that the medicine is having an effect.
Most children only need a dose or two of children’s pain medicine, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Any swelling should start to go down within a week but the effects of the treatment, such as a decrease in pain or size, may not be obvious for several months.
Your child may have had an infection in the past. Treating the lymphatic malformation may provoke another infection in the week following treatment.
An infection may make the area more swollen, hot and painful than expected and your child may have a high temperature and feel generally unwell. If this occurs, your child may need a short course of oral antibiotics from your family doctor (GP).
Lymphatic malformations are also prone to small bleeds. Your child’s lymphatic malformation may have shown signs of this in the past, such as sudden swelling and bruising.
Treating the lymphatic malformation may provoke another bleed in the days following treatment. If this occurs, give your child a dose or two of children’s pain medicine. The bleed or clot may be uncomfortable but it will settle without treatment and will not affect how well the sclerotherapy works.
Children aged under one year only
There is a very small risk that your child’s blood sugar level could drop slightly after this treatment, but as they will be closely watched on the ward, this is unlikely to happen. Their blood sugars will be tested every two hours for the first 12 hours after the procedure to make sure they are normal.
There is a small risk that your child’s blood sugar level could fall when you get home, especially if they are refusing food and/or vomiting. This is called ‘hypoglycaemia’. Signs of hypoglycaemia include:
You should call the ward (telephone number at the end of this leaflet) or your GP if your child has any of these symptoms of hypoglycaemia. You can prevent hypoglycaemia by giving your child regular feeds such as a milky or sugary drink to refill their energy stores. If they are able to take solids, high carbohydrate foods such as bread or pasta are advised.
Last reviewed by Great Ormond Street Hospital: September 2012
Ref: 2011F1091 2012F1305 December 2011 (Revised September 2012)
Compiled by the Birthmark Unit and Interventional Radiology team in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group.
This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor. No liability can be taken as a result of using this information.