Treatment of periorbital infantile haemangiomas: a systematic literature review on propranolol or steroids

J Paediatr Child Health. 2014 Apr;50(4):271-9. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12464. Epub 2013 Dec 23.


Aim: The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of propranolol versus corticosteroids for the treatment of periorbital infantile haemangiomas (IHs).

Methods: A literature review using PubMed, Ovid Medline, EBSCO, Springer, Web of Knowledge, Cochrane Library, CNKI and associated references before 2 March 2013 was conducted. The main outcomes were distribution of locations, response rate, rebound growth rate, spherical and cylinder power before and after treatment, amblyopia rate and adverse events.

Results: Thirty-one studies including 425 patients met the inclusion criteria. A total of 70.6% of patients were female, 89.6% of the periorbital IHs were located in the upper or lower eyelid area. The most common administration routes involved oral propranolol and intralesional injection of corticosteroids. The mean response rate was 94.0% for propranolol and 82.3% for corticosteroid (P = 0.001). The rebound growth rate was 13.9% for propranolol and 12.0% for steroids (P = 0.71). Astigmatism was reduced in both propranolol and steroid studies (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001), but a significant reduction in spherical power was only demonstrated in propranolol studies (P = 0.005). A total of 31.1% of patients treated with corticosteroids developed post-operative amblyopia compared with 16.7% of patients treated with propranolol (P = 0.04). Oral propranolol seemed to induce more temporary adverse events than intralesional corticosteroids administration (24.0% vs. 9.6%, P = 0.006).

Conclusion: Propranolol may represent an effective therapy for periorbital IHs compared with the use of corticosteroids; however, further randomised control studies are needed to compare adverse events.

Keywords: corticosteroid; infantile haemangioma; periorbital; propranolol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Hemangioma, Capillary / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Orbital Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Propranolol / administration & dosage
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use*
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Propranolol