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J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2011 Mar;64(3):292-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2010.06.010. Epub 2010 Jul 7.

Low-dose propranolol for infantile haemangioma.

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Centre for the Study & Treatment of Vascular Birthmarks, Wellington Regional Plastic, Maxillofacial & Burns Unit, Hutt Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand.


In 2008, propranolol was serendipitously observed to cause accelerated involution of infantile haemangioma. However, the mechanism by which it causes this dramatic effect is unknown, the dosage empirical and the optimal duration of treatment unexplored. This study determines the minimal dosage and duration of propranolol treatment to achieve accelerated involution of problematic infantile haemangioma. Consecutive patients with problematic proliferating infantile haemangioma treated with propranolol were culled from our prospective vascular anomalies database. The patients were initially managed as inpatients and commenced on propranolol at 0.25 mg kg(-1) twice daily, and closely monitored. The dosage was increased to 0.5 mg kg(-1) twice daily after 24 h, if there was no cardiovascular or metabolic side effect. The dosage was increased further by 0.5 mg kg(-1) day(-1) until a visible effect was noticed or up to a maximum of 2 mg kg(-1) day(-1), and was maintained until the lesion had fully involuted or the child was 12-months old. A total of 15 patients aged 3 weeks to 8.5 months (mean, 11 weeks) underwent propranolol treatment for problematic proliferating infantile haemangioma, which threatened life (n=1) or vision (n=2) or nasal obstruction (n=3) and/or caused ulceration (n=6) and/or bleeding (n=2) and/or significant tissue distortion (n=12). The minimal dosage required to achieve accelerated involution was 1.5-2.0 mg kg(-1) day(-1). Rebound growth occurred in the first patient when the dose was withdrawn at 7.5 months of age requiring reinstitution of treatment. No rebound growth was observed in the remaining patients. No other complications were observed. Propranolol at 1.5-2.0 mg kg(-1) day(-1), administered in divided doses with gradual increase in the dose, is effective and safe for treating problematic proliferating infantile haemangioma in our cohort of patients. Treatment should be maintained until the lesion is completely involuted or the child is 12-months old. Larger scale studies confirming the safety and efficacy of propranolol may broaden the indications of treatment of proliferating infantile haemangioma.

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