Hemangiomas respond to propranolol

June 1, 2011

Results of a new study suggest that the beta-blocker propranolol is effective in treating infantile hemangiomas of the head and neck, MedPageToday reports.

Bron, France - Results of a new study suggest that the beta-blocker propranolol is effective in treating infantile hemangiomas of the head and neck, MedPageToday reports.

Researchers from Hospices Civils de Lyon, in Bron, analyzed the records of 39 children treated with propranolol from January 2008 through September 2009 at pediatric centers in France and Canada. They found the compound lightened and reduced hemangiomas in 37 of the cases.

In 60 percent of patients, propranolol (at 2 mg/kg per day to 3 mg/kg per day) was the only therapy, and was started at an average age of just over 4 months in 33 of the 39 children. In the two children who either responded partially or not at all - one with a subglottic hemangioma and the other, a nasal tip lesion -treatment with propranolol had been started later, at ages 13 and 14 months, respectively.

Sixteen of the children had undergone previous treatment that was ineffective or could not be stopped without relapse, including nine who underwent intralesional injections of corticosteroids. In the rare instances of recurrence, propranolol was again effective, investigators report.

No treatment changes were made due to complications, although five children were switched to acebutolol due to sleeping difficulties attributed to the propranolol.

Researchers concluded that the drug is effective, especially when started in the early growth phases of the hemangioma. They added that optimal dosing and the age at which treatment should stop remain open questions that should be addressed in prospective studies.