Before I had my Wednesday Microbiology seminar earlier this evening, I had a little chat with my friend about her internal medicine exam, she mentioned that the first question asked by the doctor to the group of students was about spider angioma.
I had it put in my notebook so that I would remember to Google it when I reach home. And now I know what it actually is and how it looks like.
This is what I can sum up from Wikipedia:
- also known as spider nevus
- a type of telangiectasis (dilation of blood vessel near skin or mucous membrane)
- found slightly beneath skin surface
- shaped like a spider’s web thus the name
- common and may be benign
- present in some HEALTHY adults and children
- may be a sign of liver disease
Spider angiomas are found only in the distribution of the superior vena cava, and are thus commonly found on the face, neck, upper part of the trunk and arms. They may also be present on the backs of the hands and fingers in young children.
Spider angiomas are due to failure of the sphincteric muscle surrounding a cutaneous arteriole. The central red dot is the dilated arteriole and the red “spider legs” are small veins carrying away the freely-flowing blood. If momentary pressure is applied, it is possible to see the emptied veins refilling from the centre. No other angiomas show this phenomenon.The dilation, in turn, is caused by increased estrogen levels in the blood. Many pregnant women, or women using hormonal contraception, have spider angiomas, due to high estrogen levels in their blood. People who have significant hepatic disease also show many spider angiomas, as their liver cannot detoxify estrogen from the blood, resulting in high levels of estrogen. About 33% of patients with cirrhosis have spider angiomas. As such, microhemorrhages may be observed as spider angiomas.
Spider angiomas are asymptomatic and usually resolve spontaneously. This is common in the case of children, although they may take several years to disappear. If the spider angiomas are associated with pregnancy, they may resolve after childbirth. In women taking oral contraceptives, they may resolve after stopping these contraceptives. The spider angiomas associated with liver disease may resolve when liver function increases or when a liver transplant is performed.For spider angiomas on the face, techniques such as electrodesiccation and laser treatment can be used to remove the lesion.There is a small risk of a scar, although the results are generally good. Spider angiomas can recur after treatment.If the centre of the angioma is pricked with a hypodermic needle, opening the dilated arteriole, blood will flow freely for some time unless pressure is applied; the arteriole will then shrink or coagulate and the angioma will disappear. This treatment is minimally painful and leaves no scar
Not much of a summary though!