Background and objectives: Given the widespread use of propranolol in infantile hemangioma (IH) it was considered essential to perform a systematic review of its safety. The objectives of this review were to evaluate the safety profile of oral propranolol in the treatment of IH.

Methods: We searched Embase and Medline databases (2007-July 2014) and unpublished data from the manufacturer of Hemangiol/Hemangeol (marketed pediatric formulation of oral propranolol; Pierre Fabre Dermatologie, Lavaur, France). Selected studies included ≥10 patients treated with oral propranolol for IH and that either reported ≥1 adverse event or effect (AE) or planned to capture AEs. Data capture was standardized and extracted study design, demographic characteristics, IH characteristics, intervention, and safety outcomes. AEs were assigned a system organ class and preferred term.

Results: A total of 83 of 398 identified literature records met the inclusion criteria, covering 3766 propranolol-treated patients. The manufacturer’s data for 3 pooled clinical trials (435 propranolol-treated patients) and 1 Compassionate Use Program (1661 patients) were included. AE data were reported for 1945 of 5862 propranolol-treated patients. The most frequently reported AEs included a range of sleep disturbances, peripheral coldness, and agitation. The most serious AEs (atrioventricular block, bradycardia, hypotension, bronchospasm/bronchial hyperreactivity, and hypoglycemia-related seizures) were managed by decreasing doses or temporary/permanent discontinuation of propranolol. Limitations included the variety of included study designs; monitoring, collection, and reporting of AE data; small sample sizes for some articles; and the wide scope of review.

Conclusions: Oral propranolol is well tolerated if appropriate pretreatment assessments and within-treatment monitoring are performed to exclude patients with contraindications and to minimize serious side effects during treatment.