Oral Propranolol Therapy for Infantile Hemangiomas Beyond the Proliferation Phase: A Multicenter Retrospective Study


Address correspondence to Alex Zvulunov, M.D., M.H.A., Pediatric Dermatology Unit, Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, 12 Kaplan Street, Petah-Tikva 49101, Israel, or e-mail: azvulun@bgu.ac.il.


Abstract:  Pharmacological therapies for infantile hemangiomas were considered effective only during the proliferative phases. Recently reported beneficial effects of propranolol may extend beyond the proliferative phase of infantile hemangiomas. The purpose of the study was to assess the effect of oral propranolol therapy for infantile hemangiomas beyond the proliferative phase of these lesions. Members of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology were invited to participate in a multicenter retrospective study. Only children with infantile hemangiomas with documented cessation of lesions’ growth or those older than 12 months of age were eligible for the study. Clinical and demographic information and digital photographs before, at the start, and following the treatment were collected. Scaled panels of photographs were distributed among preselected experienced pediatric dermatologists. Visual analog scale was used to assess photographs for each case. Paired t-test was used for statistical analyses. Data on 49 eligible patients from eight pediatric dermatology centers was collected. Seven cases were excluded because of insufficient photographic documentation. The age of the patients at the start of propranolol therapy ranged 7 to 120 months (mean 28 mos, median 22 mos). The duration of propranolol therapy ranged 1 to 8 months (mean 3.6 mos). The mean visual analog scale score before the treatment was 6.8 ± 2.15, and mean reduction in the visual analog scale score at the assessment was 2.6 ± 1.74 (p < 0.001). The rate of visual analog scale reduction was 0.4 per month before the start of the therapy, while this rate was accelerated to 0.9 per months following the therapy (p < 0.001). No significant side effects were reported. We conclude that propranolol is effective in infantile hemangiomas, including post-proliferative phase, and should be considered as the first-line therapy in that setting.