JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Treatment of massive or life-threatening hemangiomas with recombinant alpha(2a)-interferon.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the response of massive, life-threatening, or function-impairing hemangiomas in pediatric patients receiving daily alpha(2a)-interferon subcutaneously.

METHODS: The effect of 3 or more months of subcutaneous alpha(2a)-interferon (3 mU/m2) was prospectively evaluated in 10 patients with hemangiomas necessitating medical intervention. Hemangioma characteristics and extent were initially assessed by radiographic imaging in all but one patient. alpha(2a)-Interferon tolerance was monitored, and reduction in hemangioma size was recorded as marked (>50%), moderate (25% to 50%), or minimal (<25%).

RESULTS: Hemangiomas were apparent at birth in 8 of 10 patients, and alpha(2a)-interferon was initiated at a median age of 4.5 months. Symptoms necessitating therapeutic intervention included congestive heart failure, airway obstruction, dysphagia, infection, failure to thrive, external auditory canal occlusion, visual axis impairment, and severe facial deformity. Four patients received treatment before referral that included systemic steroids (n = 2), intralesional steroids (n = 1), or surgical/laser excision (n = 2). alpha(2a)-Interferon therapy was well tolerated. Most patients had a temporary elevation in body temperature during the first month of therapy. One patient with anorexia required nasogastric feedings and a temporary reduction in her alpha(2a)-interferon dose. An additional patient with irritability was withdrawn from the study at his parents' request even though this symptom persisted after drug cessation. Hemangioma response to alpha(2a)-interferon was marked in six patients, moderate in two, and minimal in one whose lesion had features suggestive of a vascular malformation. Early signs of involution were usually evident within 6 weeks and often heralded by cutaneous blanching. alpha(2a)-interferon therapy was concluded in four patients after a mean duration of 20 months.

CONCLUSIONS: Daily subcutaneous alpha(2a)-interferon is well tolerated in pediatric patients and appears effective in hastening involution of symptomatic hemangiomas. A significant response is unlikely in lesions with features suggestive of a vascular malformation.

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