Embolization. In this procedure, the blood supply to the tumor is closed off. This is a minimally invasive procedure where small particles are injected into the blood vessels to block them off. Sclerotherapy is a similar procedure where chemical agents are used to close off the vessels. These procedures can be very helpful in shrinking the tumor and decreasing pain. Often, however, the tumor will regrow its blood supply over time after these procedures. Embolization is also sometimes used prior to surgery to reduce the risk of heavy blood loss.
This powerful medicine is the mainstay of medical treatment for hemangiomas, replacing steroids as the first line medical treatment for infantile hemangiomas. The goal is to slow down the growth of the lesion. Propranolol is a beta-receptor blocker – it’s effects in general are to decrease heart rate, decrease blood pressure, relieve anxiety and various other uses. However, for infantile hemangiomas it has been found to decrease the rate of proliferation and increase the rate of involution. The doses at which propranolol is used for hemangiomas is much lower than for other conditions – therefore the side effects are extremely rare. Propranolol is also available as Hemangeol (made by Pierre-Fabre Pharmaceuticals).It is the only FDA approved version of propranolol for the treatment of infants with infantile hemangioma. It is formulated specifically for this use.
The medications most commonly used to treat hemangiomas are beta blockers, which is a class of medications used to treat blood pressure and glaucoma in adults. The two beta blockers that can be prescribed for hemangiomas are propranolol (taken by mouth) or timolol (an eye drop that is rubbed on the surface of the hemangioma). Other treatments include laser therapy, glucocorticosteroids (like prednisone) either injected into the hemangioma or given by mouth, and surgery. Your doctor will go over your child’s treatment options in detail and explain the risks and benefits associated with each treatment.