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Status of propranolol for treatment of infantile hemangioma and description of a randomized clinical trial.

Author(s): Menezes MD, McCarter R, Greene EA, Bauman NM

Affiliation(s): The Feldman ENT Group, Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA.

Publication date & source: 2011-10, Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol., 120(10):686-95.

Publication type: Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

OBJECTIVES: Our primary objective was to review the current use of propranolol for treatment of infantile hemangioma (IH), specifically regarding 1) the age at initiation of therapy, 2) the method of initiation, 3) the use of other adjuvant therapy, 4) the duration of therapy and relapse rate, 5) the adverse events, and 6) the outcome. Our secondary objective was to describe a randomized, controlled, single-blinded trial comparing propranolol to prednisolone for treatment of IH. METHODS: Ovid Medline and PubMed searches were completed for the MeSH keywords "propranolol" and "hemangioma." Forty-nine English-language articles were published between June 2008 and September 2010, and 28 of these reported data from a total of 213 patients. Only 6 studies treated more than 10 patients, and these were selected for review in detail (154 patients). RESULTS: The treatment was initiated during infancy in 92.9% of patients (mean, 4.5 months). Sixty-five percent of patients were treated with 2 mg/kg per day, and 25.3% with 3 mg/kg per day. Patients were monitored overnight at initiation of treatment in 3 series (59 patients), for 4 to 6 hours as outpatients in 2 series (62 patients), and initially as inpatients but later as outpatients in 1 series (32 patients). Propranolol was used as sole therapy in about two thirds of patients (103 patients). Treatment was ongoing in 46% of patients at the time of publication. The average treatment duration in the remaining patients was 5.1 months. Rebound growth occurred in 21% of patients after a mean of 4.3 months of therapy. Adverse events occurred in 18.1% of patients and included hypotension in 6, somnolence in 6, wheezing in 4, insomnia, agitation, and/or nightmares in 6, cool hands or night sweats in 2, gastroesophageal reflux in 3, and psoriasis-like rash in 1. All authors reported a favorable outcome with propranolol, but the definition of efficacy was not standardized. CONCLUSIONS: Propranolol is an attractive alternative to other treatments for IH. Despite apparent widespread use of this medication, the data are limited, and prospective studies are lacking for this indication. The relatively high rate of adverse effects supports the need for careful monitoring of patients on this therapy. Fastidious reporting of adverse events and objective evaluation of early and late outcomes are necessary to improve our understanding of the use of propranolol for this indication.

Page last updated: 2011-12-09

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