Vascular malformations — lesions composed of malformed blood or lymph vessels — usually appear around the time of birth and continue to increase in volume as patients get older. Small lesions can be treated effectively by techniques such as laser coagulation, surgical resection or sclerotherapy. However, larger and deeper lesions often are difficult to treat without causing major tissue or neurovascular damage.Dr. Christian S. Betz of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, and his colleagues at University College London Hospital evaluated the use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for treating these larger and more complex vascular malformations in the head and neck.They treated 11 patients with benign lymphatic or venous malformations of the head and/or neck. Following intravenous application of a photosensitizing drug and a four-day period of drug/light intervals, interstitial laser treatment was performed with a 652-nm PDT laser from Biolitec AG of Jena, Germany. The number of treatments per patient varied from one to 10, depending on the size and number of lesions.After treatment, a significant reduction in the volume of abnormal tissue was observed in all cases, and the patients’ symptoms were alleviated. None of the patients experienced any major associated tissue or neurovascular damage.The researchers believe their results indicate that PDT may be a safe and effective treatment option for complex benign vascular malformations.Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, August 2007, pp. 571-582.