Other Reasons to Prescribe Pentoxifylline and How It Works

How Does This Medication Work?

Pentoxifylline improves blood flow by increasing the ability of white and red blood cells to change shape as they pass through tight spaces, such as the narrowed blood vessels of peripheral arterial disease. The exact mechanism that allows this shape change is unknown.
Pentoxifylline also reduces the viscosity (thickness) of the blood by reducing the activation and adhesion of neutrophils, the most common white blood cell. Neutrophils are first to respond to an injury, gathering at the site to protect it from infection. Activation and subsequent adhesion of the neutrophils at a site increases the viscosity (thickness) of the blood. Pentoxifylline reduces this blood thickness so the blood flows more freely, allowing more oxygen to reach the extremities.

Is Pentoxifylline Safe for Children?

This drug is not approved for use in children, as it has not been adequately studied in this age group. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using pentoxifylline in children.

Is It Used for Off-Label Reasons?

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend pentoxifylline for something other than peripheral arterial disease (this would be known as an "off-label" use). Some possible off-label uses of pentoxifylline include the treatment of the following conditions:
  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • Diabetic atherosclerosis
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Gangrene
  • Clots in a hemodialysis shunt
  • Impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction, or ED) caused by poor blood flow
  • Malaria infections that have affected the brain
  • Septic shock
  • Vasculitis
  • Leg ulcers
  • Strokes
  • High altitude sickness
  • Eye and ear disorders.
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Pentoxifylline Drug Information

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