Infantile Hemangioma Project

This research project aims to use artificial intelligence to find common characteristics and particularities from a high number of photographs of children with infantile hemangioma. If you are the parent of a child with infantile hemangioma, please consider participating.

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Research Goals

Guidelines have been emerging which help medical practioners categorize hemangiomas, according to size, color, region of the body and other characteristics (Janmohamed et al., 2011; Semkova et al., 2015; Haggstrom et al., 2012). These guidelines were built using as many as 78 photographs (Janmohamed et al., 2011). The goal of this project is to harvest artificial intelligence so that we can build robust guidelines based on hundrends, or even thousands, of photographs.

This project is being developed at INESC TEC, one of the biggest technological institutions in Portugal, with over 30 years of experience in R&D.

What is Infantile Hemangioma?

Infantile hemangioma is a benign tumor at the endothelial cellular level and that is usually self-involuting (meaning it naturally disappears). It is estimated that up to 10% of newborns suffer infantile hemangioma. About one third of these are present at birth, but all skin hemangiomas will be visible by six months of age.

The pathogenesis is still unclear. But briefly, hemagiomas grow rapidly for the first few weeks or months. They then enter a rest phase by about 8 months of age. And they usually begin to shrink (involution phase) around 1 year of age. As the lesion shrinks, the color may change from red to purple and gray. This involution process is characterized by the apoptosis of endothelial cells coupled with an increase in the number of mast cells which help to promote regression back to normal. It may take several years for the hemangioma to go away completely. Larger lesions take a longer time to go away and have a greater chance of scarring.

PhaseTypical AgeDetailsExample
Growthnewborn to 14 monthsHemangioma is growing rapidly (puffing out), and the color is bright red.
Resting8 to 14 months oldNo change in size, and the skin becomes less shiny.
Shrinking (involution)1 to 5 yearsLesion shrinks, and the color changes to purple and gray. It may even fade completely.

Most infantile hemangiomas are nothing to worry about, and only approximately 12 percent of these are complex enough to warrant a visit with a specialist who is familiar with birthmarks and vascular anomalies and knows what to look for. The natural healing process is not always as smooth as desirable, and ulceration, bleeding and even interference with organ function are possible complications. Furthermore, cutaneous defects can only be treated afterwards by intrusive methods such as laser surgery and surgical excision. Hemangiomas are not, however, cancerigenous.

The Team

For any questions, contact us.