Propranolol in the treatment of upper airway hemangiomas

April 17, 2013
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Abstract

Airway hemangiomas (AHs), which are common in infant airways, often cause significant upper airway obstruction. The various therapies used for AH have limitations and complications. Propranolol may have a potential role in its treatment, since it leads to regression or stabilization of cutaneous infantile hemangiomas. To date, only 4 previous case reports (7 patients) in which propranolol was used for AH have been published. Based on encouraging preliminary data on propranolol use for AH treatment, our goal was to further investigate propranolol as an effective initial treatment of upper AHs that cause significant obstruction symptoms. In this retrospective case series, we reviewed the medical records of 5 consecutive pediatric patients with AH (glottic and subglottic) treated with propranolol at a tertiary care children's hospital. All 5 patients were 2 months of age at the time of hemangioma diagnosis and had stridor and physical signs of severe upper airway obstruction. Hemangioma was diagnosed by flexible laryngoscopy or flexible bronchoscopy. All patients received propranolol 2 mg/kg/day and showed significant relief of obstruction symptoms within 24 hours of treatment initiation. All patients tolerated propranolol without significant cardiovascular complications. Outcomes from this case series, in conjunction with available case reports in the literature, suggest that propranolol is a safe initial treatment for symptomatic upper AH.

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