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SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital

Passeig Sant Joan de Déu, 2, 08950 Esplugues de Llobregat

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A new laser to treat port wine stains using local anaesthetic within the first few days of life

04 August 2020

The Hospital uses this outpatient treatment to lighten vascular malformations with which three in every 1,000 babies are born each year The new laser brings results more quickly.

The SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital is the first centre in Spain to have incorporated a cutting-edge pulsed-dye Vbeam Prima laser into the treatment of babies and children with vascular malformations or port wine stains on the skin.

This laser provides substantial improvements as compared to those that have existed up to now given that it can clear up the stains faster, in fewer sessions and in many cases without the need to place a child under general anaesthesia. The new laser also has a second wavelength which can successfully tackle even deeper lesions.

Three in every 1,000 children are born with vascular malformations or stains on the skin (mainly on the face) which darken in time until they acquire the tone of port wine (which is what gives this pathology its nickname). These vascular malformations are caused during embryonic development, due to a mutation of the GNAQ gene in capillary cell walls, causing the formation of more veins that are more dilated.

The team in the Hospital Dermatology Department who treat these children, led by Doctor Eulàlia Baselga, consider that the treatment of these stains must be started as early as possible and, if possible, a few weeks after birth to avoid any stigma, complexes and suffering that it can cause the child growing up. The head of the Dermatological Laser Unit, Daniel Brualla, explains that up to now it was necessary to subject a child to an average of 15 laser sessions to lighten the stain by 75% or almost fully remove it. With the new apparatus, the number of sessions required is around 10 and the duration of each session has been reduced from 20 to 10 minutes.

The SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital is a centre of reference in Spain for the treatment of vascular malformations and haemangiomas, and it is a collaborative member of the European Reference Network (ERN) for vascular lesions. It has a team who diagnose, follow-up and treat children with this pathology, consisting of dermatologists, surgeons, radiologists, interventional radiologists, radiographers, oncologists, orthopedists, ophthalmologists, geneticists and specialist pathologists.

In 2019, professionals from the Dermatology Department at the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital treated approximately 150 children with capillary malformations, on whom they performed a total of 225 laser sessions under anaesthesia and 423 without.