A consultant doctor from Mediclinic City Hospital answers your questions about hemangioma and what treatments are available.
13 January 2021| Last updated on 14 January 2021
If you're a mum concerned about that raised, red or purple-coloured 'birthmark' on your child's body, you must have a lot of questions. What you may be seeing is a condition called hemangioma, but all though seeing one can be worrisome to parents, do not be intimated by the word or how it looks.
To help answer your questions about hemangioma, here's what a Consultant Paediatrician from Mediclinic City Hospital has to say about that worrying spot on the skin.
What is hemangiomas?
Hemangiomas are common types of birthmarks that are usually red or purple. Sometimes called strawberry because of their shapes and color. They can occur anywhere and develop shortly after birth due to overgrowth of cells that line blood vessels.
How are hemangiomas treated?
Few years ago, the only traditional treatment for complicated hemangiomas was steroids, which may cause severe unwanted side effects.
Recently studies found that propranolol, which is a heart medication, is a gold standard for hemangiomas and recently licensed for such use. At Mediclinic City Hospital, experts achieved full resolution of hemangiomas in all of their patients without any side effects or complications at all by using very small doses given by mouth.
What is propranolol and how it works?
Propranolol blocks beta-receptors in the blood vessels so as it tighten and reduce the amount of blood flow through the hemangioma and reducing the growth of its cells making it to shrink. In addition, it eliminates the extra blood vessel tissue.
What doctors monitor before starting propranolol
- The child may need ECG, little blood tests, a photograph, rarely echo and abdominal US if lesion suspected in the abdomen.
- We usually monitor response to a tiny dose by admitting the child for a few hours. After this, follow up can be done as an outpatient and by using clinical and digital photograph monitoring.
How long does treatment last?
The response can be noticeable from the first few days with tiny doses. However, the full treatment and disappearance of hemangioma may need from four to 18 months depending on the size of the growth.
The earlier the medication is started, the better and shorter the outcome. In many of Mediclinic City Hospital's patients, they responded fully after four months of treatment, after which propranolol can be weaned off over two to three weeks before stopping.