Adverse effects of propranolol when used in the treatment of hemangiomas: a case series of 28 infants

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Aug;65(2):320-327. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.06.048. Epub 2011 May 20.


Background: Infantile hemangioma (IH) is a frequently encountered tumor with a potentially complicated course. Recently, propranolol was discovered to be an effective treatment option.

Objective: To describe the effects and side effects of propranolol treatment in 28 children with (complicated) IH.

Methods: A protocol for treatment of IH with propranolol was designed and implemented. Propranolol was administered to 28 children (21 girls and 7 boys, mean age at onset of treatment: 8.8 months).

Results: All 28 patients had a good response. In two patients, systemic corticosteroid therapy was tapered successfully after propranolol was initiated. Propranolol was also an effective treatment for hemangiomas in 4 patients older than 1 year of age. Side effects that needed intervention and/or close monitoring were not dose dependent and included symptomatic hypoglycemia (n = 2; 1 patient also taking prednisone), hypotension (n = 16, of which 1 is symptomatic), and bronchial hyperreactivity (n = 3). Restless sleep (n = 8), constipation (n = 3) and cold extremities (n = 3) were observed.

Limitations: Clinical studies are necessary to evaluate the incidence of side effects of propranolol treatment of IH.

Conclusions: Propranolol appears to be an effective treatment option for IH even in the nonproliferative phase and after the first year of life. Potentially harmful adverse effects include hypoglycemia, bronchospasm, and hypotension.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / chemically induced
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Face
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hemangioma / drug therapy*
  • Hemangioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypotension / chemically induced
  • Hypotension / epidemiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Propranolol / adverse effects*
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / chemically induced
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Propranolol