Viagra may cure children’s condition

Turns out Viagra has other health benefits besides helping men sustain an erection. In fact, the drug may be the cure for a rare lymphatic condition found in children, according to Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

During a clinical trial, Viagra proved a potential cure to hard-to-treat malformations of the lymphatic system. Lymphangiomas “are overgrowths of the one-way lymph channels that return extra fluid from our tissues to the bloodstream,” read the School of Medicine press release. “Rarely, in infants and children, these channels grow abnormally large and cause deformity and death.”

Although lymphangiomas are mostly cosmetic, there is a chance they could block a child’s airway or interfere with their heart or lung function since the deformity tends to grow over time. Unfortunately, they are not easily removable because the overgrown vessels are often too tangled with vital organs.

This is where the erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, comes into play. Five months ago physicians noticed by accident, that the drug appears to shrink the overgrown vessels. In this event, they initially gave the drug to a child with a severe lymphangioma to treat pulmonary hypertension. Following this, doctors noticed that the lymph malformation shrank significantly.

Viagra has also been used to treat pulmonary hypertension in children. When used for this, possible reported side effects included nausea, headaches, and, in a few rare cases, spontaneous erections. Yeah, try explaining that to your kid.

While the full effects of the drug in this case are unknown, the research team is continuing to study more children and applying to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s for funds to run a larger trial. Al Lane, a physician investigating the correlation, seemed optimistic of the results and said in the press release:

“There has been no medical treatment for lymphangiomas; now all of the sudden there may be one.”