Effect of combined low-dose oral prednisone with beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists for refractory infantile hemangiomas: retrospective cohort study in 76 patients

Chao Liu, Ze-Liang Zhao, Hai-Wei Wu, Jia-Wei Zheng, Yan-An Wang, Xue-Jian Liu, Xin-Dong Fan


Background: Beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists have been the first-line treatment for infantile hemangiomas (IHs); however, monotherapy may fail to achieve sufficient efficacy for certain patients, especially for refractory IHs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the combination of prednisone and beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists for refractory IHs.
Methods: We studied 76 patients with refractory IHs. After more than one month of insufficient oral propranolol therapy, forty-four patients received additional treatment of prednisone, while thirty-two patients continued to receive beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists monotherapy. The response to treatment was assessed according to hemangioma score values.
Results: The outcomes of patients after combined treatment were significantly better than those with monotherapy of beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists. The age to initiate prednisone was significantly negatively correlated with the improvement in the combination treatment group. The age at initiate treatment showed significant correlation with score variation percentage in both groups. There was no significant difference in the treatment duration observed between the two groups. Multivariable logistic regression analysis for all patients showed prednisone administration was the most important factor to better overall outcomes.
Conclusions: Short-term addition of low-dose oral prednisone is an effective and safe adjunctive treatment for oral propranolol in contributing to refractory IH. Both early administration and long enough duration would be necessary.