Side-by-side comparison of photodynamic therapy and pulsed-dye laser treatment of port-wine stain birthmarks


  • Funding sources
    This work was supported in part by the International Science and Technology Collaboration Project of the Science and Technology Project Management of Guangdong Province (2010B050700011) (K.H.Y. and Z.H.).

  • Conflicts of interest
    None declared.

  • The first two authors contributed equally to this study.

Kai-Hua Yuan or Zhiqi Hu.


Background  Pulsed-dye laser (PDL)-mediated photothermolysis is the current standard treatment for port-wine stain (PWS) birthmarks. Vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy (PDT) might be an alternative for the treatment of PWS.

Objectives  To compare clinical outcomes of PDT and PDL treatment of PWS.

Methods  Two adjacent flat areas of PWS lesions were selected from each of 15 patients (two male and 13 female; age 11–36 years) and randomly assigned to either single-session PDL or PDT. PDL was delivered using a 585-nm pulsed laser. PDT was carried out with a combination of haematoporphyrin monomethyl ether (HMME) and a low-power copper vapour laser (510·6 and 578·2 nm). Clinical outcomes were evaluated colorimetrically and visually during follow-up.

Results  A total of nine red PWS lesions and six purple PWS lesions were treated. For red PWS, colorimetric assessment showed that the blanching rates of PDL and PDT at 2 months ranged from −11% to 24% and 22% to 55%, respectively. For purple PWS, blanching rates of PDL and PDT ranged from 8% to 33% and 30% to 45%, respectively. Overall, there was a significant difference between the blanching effect of single-session PDL treatment and a single-session PDT treatment.

Conclusions  This side-by-side comparison demonstrates that PDT is at least as effective as PDL and, in some cases, superior. The true value of PDT for the treatment of PWS deserves further investigation.