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Quick Facts

Sturge-Weber Syndrome

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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What is Sturge-Weber syndrome?

Sturge-Weber syndrome is a birth defect of small blood vessels.

  • Sturge-Weber syndrome causes a birthmark on the newborn's face

  • Most babies also have a blood vessel tumor (angioma) in the tissue covering the brain

  • Over time, children usually develop worsening eye and brain problems

  • Treatments can improve the appearance of the birthmark, and medicines can help some eye and brain problems

What causes Sturge-Weber syndrome?

Sturge-Weber syndrome is caused by an abnormal gene Genes and Chromosomes Your genes are the chemical codes that control everything about how your body works, how it's made, and what it looks like. People have over 20,000 different genes. Every cell in your body has... read more . This gene was accidentally damaged when the baby was still in the womb. The abnormal gene isn't inherited from the parents.

Abnormal blood vessels that grow on the face cause a red or purple birthmark. Abnormal blood vessels that grow around the brain can cause brain damage or a stroke Stroke A stroke is a sudden brain problem that happens when a blood vessel in your brain either gets blocked or breaks open and bleeds. Part of your brain stops getting blood. Brain tissue that doesn't... read more .

What are the symptoms of Sturge-Weber syndrome?

Babies have a birthmark on their face. The birthmark is usually on one side of the forehead and upper eyelid but may appear anywhere on the face. It's sometimes called a port-wine stain because the color ranges from light pink to deep purple.

In addition to the birthmark, the disorder can cause:

How do doctors know if my child has Sturge-Weber syndrome?

Doctors suspect Sturge-Weber syndrome in children who have the typical birthmark.

The doctors may order an MRI of the brain (a scan showing detailed pictures) to check for blood vessel tumors in the tissues covering the brain.

How do doctors treat Sturge-Weber syndrome?

There's no cure for Sturge-Weber syndrome. Doctors treat the symptoms:

  • Medicines or surgery to control the seizures

  • Medicines or surgery for glaucoma

  • Aspirin in low doses to reduce the chance of a stroke

  • Laser treatment to lighten or remove the birthmark if desired

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Fractures of the Jaw and Midface
Fractures to one or more facial structures can result from a single injury. Jaw fractures may occur to the mandible, or lower jaw, or to the maxilla, bone of the upper jaw. Other structures susceptible to fracture include the eye sockets, nose, and cheek bones. Which of the following facial structures is most likely to fracture if a person falls from a great height or hits the windshield of a car face-first during a motor vehicle accident?
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