Propranolol Treatment of Vascular Anomalies Other Than Infantile Hemangioma

J Craniofac Surg. 2017 Nov;28(8):2001-2003. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000004166.


Background: Oral propranolol has become first-line intervention for problematic infantile hemangioma (IH) that is not amenable to topical or intralesional therapies. Consensus data supporting its efficacy for other vascular anomalies does not exist. The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency and causes of propranolol use for vascular lesions other than IH.

Methods: Referrals to our Vascular Anomalies Center between 2008 and 2017 were reviewed for patients treated with propranolol at an outside institution. Patient history, photographs, imaging studies, and/or histopathology were evaluated by an interdisciplinary team to diagnose the vascular anomaly. Our center's diagnosis was compared to the referral diagnosis to categorize patients into 3 groups: Group 1 (patients were appropriately labeled with an IH); Group 2 (individuals were erroneously diagnosed with IH); and Group 3 (subjects were diagnosed with a vascular anomaly other than IH).

Results: Two hundred thirty-six patients met inclusion criteria. Group 1 (39%; n = 91) had an IH and were treated appropriately. Group 2 (20%; n = 49) was misdiagnosed with IH and incorrectly received propranolol. Group 3 (41%; n = 96) was given propranolol to treat another vascular anomaly. Propranolol did not have efficacy for vascular anomalies other than IH.

Conclusions: Propranolol commonly is used to treat lesions other than IH; misdiagnosis of a lesion as IH is a common cause. Propranolol should be used with caution to treat other types of vascular anomalies because patients are subjected to the risks of the drug without data supporting its efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Hemangioma, Capillary / diagnosis
  • Hemangioma, Capillary / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use*
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Malformations / diagnosis
  • Vascular Malformations / drug therapy*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Propranolol