Introduction: Propranolol has recently emerged as an effective drug treatment for infantile haemangiomas. The side effect profile of the drug and the safety of administering propranolol in outpatient settings in this age group remain uncertain. We report our experience with 200 infants and children prescribed propranolol to treat infantile haemangiomas, including 37 patients considered to have a poor response to treatment.
Method: Patients were prescribed propranolol (1 mg/kg/dose bd) as outpatients at the Vascular Anomalies Service at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.
Results: The median age at commencement was 4 months (range 5 days–7 years). Twenty patients were older than 12 months at commencement. The median duration of treatment was 8 months. About 80% of treated haemangiomas were on the face. Approximately 50% of patients were considered to have an excellent response, 30% to have a good response and 20% to have a poor response. All segmental facial haemangiomas responded well. In contrast, 25% of focal facial haemangiomas responded poorly. Sleep disturbance was the most common side effect. Gross motor abnormalities including delayed walking were observed in 13 patients.
Conclusion: Propranolol appears to be an effective treatment for infantile haemangiomas, particularly large segmental facial lesions. A poor response was seen in 20% of patients. Treatment has been provided in an outpatient setting without major complications and with excellent parental compliance. The side effect profile appears to be favourable, but further follow-up is required to identify unexpected long-term side effects.