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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013 Mar;131(3):601-13. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31827c6fab.

Propranolol versus corticosteroids in the treatment of infantile hemangioma: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, McGill University Health Centre, 760 Upper Lansdowne Avenue, Westmount, Quebec H3Y 1J8, Canada.



Infantile hemangiomas are benign vascular neoplasms that can cause numerous functional or cosmetic problems. The authors reviewed the pathogenesis of hemangioma and compared the efficacy and complications related to therapy with propranolol versus corticosteroids.


A comprehensive review of the literature was conducted from 1965 to March of 2012 using MEDLINE, PubMed, Ovid, Cochrane Review database, and Google Scholar. All articles were reviewed for reports of clinical cases, reported side effects, doses, duration of treatment, number of patients, and response rate to treatment.


A total of 1162 studies were identified. Of those, only 56 articles met inclusion criteria after review by two independent reviewers (A.I. and J.K.). For the meta-analysis, 16 studies comprising 2629 patients and 25 studies comprising 795 patients were included. Less than 90 percent of patients treated with corticosteroids responded to therapy, compared with 99 percent of patients treated with propranolol after 12 months of follow-up. Meta-analysis demonstrated the corticosteroid studies to have a pooled response rate of 69 percent versus the propranolol response rate of 97 percent (p < 0.001).


Propranolol is a relatively recent therapy of hemangiomas with fewer side effects, a different mechanism of action, and greater efficacy than current first-line corticosteroid therapy. Many of these studies do not have the same patient population or duration/regimen of treatment for hemangiomas; however, based on available data in the literature, it appears that propranolol could be an emerging and effective treatment for infantile hemangiomas. Further randomized controlled trials are recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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