Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT)

Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia is a rare genetic (runs in families) disorder that affects blood vessels. It often causes internal bleeding, and it makes it harder for oxygen to get to the body’s tissues. HHT may cause blood vessels to form without capillaries (tiny vessels between arteries and veins), so blood passes directly from arteries to veins. This is a condition known as arteriovenous malformation (AVM), and it commonly occurs in the lungs, where it is called pulmonary AVM. HHT also can lead to a condition called telangiectasia (spider veins), in which enlarged or broken blood vessels in the skin appear as delicate red or purplish spots on the legs, hands, fingertips, face, lips, lining of the mouth, or nose.

HHT can affect people of all ages, genders, and racial and ethnic groups, and some of the problems it creates can be serious or even life-threatening. The symptoms may not be obvious, so genetic testing is needed to accurately diagnose HHT. Nosebleeds are the most common symptom, and bleeding within the stomach or intestines is another possible sign of HHT. There is no cure, but effective treatments are available. Therapy for HHT usually involves treating the symptoms, including controlling bleeding and anemia (low levels of red blood cells in the blood) and preventing complications from abnormal artery-vein connections in the brain, spine, lungs, and other areas of the body.


The UAB Division of Vascular and Neuro-Interventional Radiology operates an HHT Clinic at The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital. It provides complete care from physicians in many different medical specialties who are experts in HHT, and it serves patients and their families from childhood through adulthood. UAB is in the process of obtaining a Center of Excellence designation from the Cure HHT Foundation, which will provide important resources such as participating in HHT clinical research trials, access to a network for discussing complex HHT cases with expert physicians around the world, and outreach opportunities.

The clinic’s specialists include an interventional neuroradiologist who helps manage HHT-related problems that may develop in the brain and spine, such as AVM. Other specialists manage pulmonary AVM, nosebleeds, heart problems, bleeding from the gut, and anemia. To make an appointment with the HHT Clinic, please call 205-801-4647 or 205-801-7492.

PODCAST: Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia

Jesse Jones MD and Theresa Caridi MD discuss hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. In this physician round table, they explore diagnosis and treatment of this genetic disease that can result in nosebleeds, breathing difficulties, and stroke.






Radiology Services

Radiology uses various technologies to create images of the body, its organs, and its structures that help physicians diagnose and treat injury and disease. These technologies include radioactive substances, electromagnetic radiation, and sound waves. Radiologists are physicians who read and interpret radiology images and other medical tests and report the results to other health care professionals to help them rule out or more accurately treat medical conditions. Radiology includes diagnostic tests such as X-rays to look at broken bones, PET scans to see tumors or changes in the brain, ultrasounds for guiding biopsies, MRIs to show spine lesions, and mammograms to screen for breast cancer. Radiation therapy can be used to treat cancer or fibroid tumors, and radiology can even deliver chemotherapy and other agents directly to the tumor’s blood supply. Radiology is used to perform certain innovative procedures designed to treat peripheral arterial, venous, urologic, and hepatobiliary diseases. Procedures usually are performed on an outpatient basis, sometimes under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation.

Interventional radiology is a specialty within radiology that has become an integral part of comprehensive patient care, providing less invasive techniques for diagnosing and treating a range of health problems. The field has evolved rapidly over the past 25 years to include the management of tumors and to provide therapeutic options to patients who are not able to undergo more traditional surgical procedures for their condition.


UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

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