Sharing the news
Chang, meanwhile, couldn’t stop thinking about what the success meant for other children. “I was totally excited,” he said. “It’s rare in medicine that you see something have such a dramatic effect so fast.”
Chang and Truong soon gave a conference presentation at the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology about the success of Isabella’s case, making it the first reported instance of a life-threatening airway hemangioma to be successfully treated with propranolol. Other doctors who had also been inspired by the French team began reporting on their use of the medication, too.
Since Isabella was treated in 2008, thousands of children have received propranolol for serious hemangiomas. A recently published series of 207 such cases found that more than 99 percent of the tumors responded to the drug, many as quickly as Isabella’s.
In addition to its speed, propranolol is much safer for children than previous hemangioma treatments. For instance, giving steroids can hinder a child’s growth, and in many cases, steroids only temporarily halt the growth of the tumor. Laser surgery for airway hemangiomas carried the possible side effect of permanent scarring of the vocal cords, which is not a risk with propranolol treatment. Surgeries for large hemangiomas in other locations were often risky and disfiguring, a problem that propranolol has largely solved.
Isabella received propranolol for several months, ending her treatment just before her first birthday. Now a busy first-grader, she loves to read, play soccer, dance and ride her bike.
At a recent checkup, Isabella’s pediatrician told the Manleys that she had been following reports on the use of propranolol in the medical literature. She told them what a difference the drug has made for so many other kids.
“It didn’t hit us until then,” Julie Anna said. “Isabella really is a trailblazer.”
Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions – Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at http://mednews.stanford.edu.