ED Drug Shrinks Abnormal Growths in Kids

Viagra treats deformity in children

(RxWiki News) Viagra is known to boost men’s sexual vigor, but it can also treat a totally different type of condition in children: One small study says that the drug can diminish the size of a birth defect in kids.

Doctors from Stanford University, Washington University School of Medicine and University of Colorado School of Medicine say that Viagra can treat severe lymphatic malformations in children.

"Ask your doctor about treatment for lymphatic malformation in kids."

The study was performed on three children, all of whom have congenital, disabling lymphatic malformations, which is a mass in the head or neck that results from an abnormal growth of lymphatic vessels, or small canals that carry tissue fluids from within the body to lymph nodes and back to the bloodstream.

Lymphatic formations can obstruct vital organs, and treatment for the condition is only partially successful, leading them to recur, according to the study authors.

Doctors gave the kids sildenafil, the drug that’s sold under the brand name Viagra. In the first patient, a 10-week-old-girl, the malformation reduced in size after four months of treatment. Two other children with the same condition were given sildenafil for 12-week periods.

The second patient was a one-year-old boy whose lymphatic malformation involved the eye, obstructing his vision. After three weeks of treatment, the boy’s ability to open his eye improved, and after 12 weeks, his eye opening increased by 25%. However, the growth returned after treatment stopped.

The third patient was a 15-month-old girl who had three lymphatic malformations. After 12 weeks of treatment, the girl’s malformation had reduced by 75%. When treatment stopped, the growth returned, though smaller in size, in four weeks.

The authors believe the results suggest that sildenafil could be an effective treatment for lymphathic malformations, and could possibly be used in combination with other treatments. A larger study is currently being conducted to test sildenafil against a placebo.

The doctors say that drug diminishes the size of lymphatic malformations by relaxing smooth muscles, which leads to decompression of the cyst. Or, the relaxation of muscle may allow secondary lymphatic spaces to open. Another explanation: sildenafil may normalize function of the thin layer of cells that line lymphatic vessels, according to the authors.

Sildenafil has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as treatment for pulmonary hypertension in adults. It may be prescribed to kids with pulmonary hypertension, though it's not stipulated for that use on the drug’s label.

This observational study was reviewed by Stanford University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
 

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Review Date: 
February 3, 2012