Multicenter Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Systemic Propranolol in the Treatment of Airway Hemangiomas

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Sep;153(3):452-60. doi: 10.1177/0194599815591809. Epub 2015 Jun 29.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of systemic propranolol in airway infantile hemangioma (AIH) treatment.

Design: Case series with chart review.

Participants: Patients with AIH treated with propranolol between 2009 and 2012 with at least a 1-year follow-up.

Outcomes: Presenting age, treating institution, syndrome presence, presenting AIH stage, endoscopy status, propranolol initiation location/dose/duration, time to stridor resolution, adjunctive medical and surgical therapy, and treatment-associated complications.

Results: Twenty-seven patients met inclusion criteria. Average age of diagnosis was 2.3 months (range, 1-5 months). The AIHs were stage 1 in 7 of 27 (26%), stage 2 in 12 of 27 (44%), and stage 3 in 8 of 27 (30%). Propranolol initiation was inpatient in 25 of 27 (93%) and outpatient in 2 of 27 (7%). Propranolol dose was maintained at 2 mg/kg/d in all patients for a minimum of 7 months (range, 7-34 months; median, 15 months). Stridor was eliminated within 24 hours or less of propranolol initiation in 23 of 27 (85%). At diagnosis, staging and propranolol initiation in 11 of 27 (41%) were managed with propranolol alone; the remaining 16 of 27 (59%) also had a steroid injection. The use of adjuvant therapy at the time of propranolol initiation and the size of the AIH were not statistically correlated. Twelve patients had additional treatments after the initiation of propranolol due to recurrence of respiratory symptoms, 1 of 27 (4%) of whom was considered a nonresponder. No complications related to propranolol use were noted.

Conclusions: This multisite study of AIH treatment with propranolol demonstrates similar effectiveness to surgical treatment modalities. Propranolol therapy for AIH had no complications, had potentially lower resource utilization, and should be considered a first-line AIH treatment.

Keywords: airway; breathing; infant; infantile hemangioma; larynx; pharynx; propranolol; stridor; subglottic hemangioma; subglottic stenosis; subglottis; surgery; trachea.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / drug therapy*
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Hemangioma / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Propranolol