Port-wine Stain Diagnosis

Port-wine stains are diagnosed mainly by their appearance.

Infants with a port-wine stain that involves the upper and lower eyelids usually undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or other type of brain scan. This can help the physician diagnose or exclude Sturge-Weber syndrome.

Approximately 5 percent of infants with a port-wine stain on the eyelids are at risk for this condition, in which the lesion involves the trigeminal nerve, the eye, the meninges (thin membrances surrounding the brain), and the brain. Seizures occur in about 80 percent of patients afflicted. Glaucoma, developmental delays, and partial paralysis are other aspects of Sturge-Weber syndrome.

An extensive port-wine stain on a limb can result in varicose veins and locally enlarged skin, tissues, and bones. This is a very rare condition called Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome.

Treatment for Port-wine Stains

Pulsed-dye laser offers safe and effective treatment for port-wine stains. Treatment success depends on the age at which it is begun and the location of the lesion. With multiple treatments, most port-wine stains can be significantly lightened. Topical, local, or general anesthesia can be administered before the procedure to minimize discomfort.

Port-wine Stain Prevention

Port-wine stains cannot be prevented. If the child has Sturge-Weber syndrome, an ophthalmologist and neurologist should be consulted soon after the diagnosis to reduce the risk for glaucoma and seizures. For more information, contact the
Sturge-Weber Foundation
P.O. Box 418
Mount Freedom, New Jersey
phone: 1.800.627.5482

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 02 Sep 2015