More About Lymphatic Malformation

A lymphatic malformation  is a lymphatic vessel that isn’t formed right. The malformations are lymphatic tissue filled with fluid (cyst). Your child may have one or more of these cysts.

Lymphatic vessels are part of the lymphatic system. This is part of the immune system. It helps fight infection and other disease. It also helps keep the fluid balance in the body. It does this by emptying extra fluid into blood vessels. This system includes: 

  • Lymphocytes. White blood cells that fight infection and disease.
  • Lymph. White blood cells that contain fluid.
  • Lymph vessels. Thin tubes that carry lymph fluid throughout the body.
  • Lymph nodes. These are bean-shaped glands. They are found in the armpit, groin, neck, chest, stomach, and other parts of the body.
  • Other organs or body tissues. For example, these are bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and tonsils. Other organs, such as the digestive tract, also contain lymphatic tissue.

Some lymphatic malformations affect nearby tissue. This causes problems and keeps the tissue from working as it should. For example, a malformation in the chest can cause breathing problems. These can be life-threatening.

Most of the time, your child’s healthcare provider can spot symptoms at birth. If there aren’t any symptoms at birth, they often start before your baby is 2 years of age.

Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. Symptoms depend on the size of the malformation and where it is. They can include:

  • A soft, smooth lump or mass. This is most often on the neck. It can also be on your child’s head, mouth, tongue, eye, chest, stomach, arms, legs, or scrotum and penis.
  • A lump or mass that gets larger quickly. This may be because of bleeding or an infection.
  • Swelling, pain, bleeding, and infection. Signs of infection can include redness, warmth, pain, swelling, and drainage.
  • A malformation in the chest may cause trouble breathing and swallowing.
  • A malformation in the eye may cause trouble seeing.

The symptoms of this condition may look like symptoms of other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.