Adrenal suppression and failure to thrive after steroid injections for periocular hemangioma

Ophthalmology. 2004 Feb;111(2):389-95. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(03)00833-9.


Purpose: To evaluate the effects of steroid injections for periocular capillary hemangioma on adrenal function and body composition.

Design: Noncomparative, interventional case series.

Participants: Four patients with periocular hemangioma.

Methods: Four white female infants with sight-threatening periocular hemangiomata received a combination of steroid injections of triamcinolone and betamethasone. In the first 2 cases, injections were perilesional and in the other 2, intralesional.

Main outcome measures: The infants were monitored by serial measurements of basal serum cortisol concentrations, responses to the Synacthen stimulation test, measurement of growth and of weight gain, and, in one case, more detailed anthropometric measures of body composition.

Results: Prolonged suppression of circulating serum cortisol concentrations and cortisol responses to the Synacthen stimulation test were noted in 3 cases, and marked failure to thrive was noted in all 4 cases.

Conclusions: Adrenal suppression after steroid injection for periocular capillary hemangioma is a potentially life-threatening complication. Failure to thrive is also a frequent side effect of treatment. Ophthalmologists should undertake the above treatment in consultation with a pediatric endocrinologist.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Insufficiency / blood
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / chemically induced*
  • Betamethasone / adverse effects
  • Betamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / blood
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Failure to Thrive / blood
  • Failure to Thrive / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Hemangioma, Capillary / blood
  • Hemangioma, Capillary / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Infant
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide / adverse effects
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide / therapeutic use


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Betamethasone
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide
  • Hydrocortisone