Experience with adjunctive corticosteriods in managing tuberculous pericarditis
Burgess, Lesley J.
Louw, Vernon J.
Doubell, Anton F.
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Objectives: To compare the efficacy of intrapericardial corticosteroid therapy to either oral corticosteroid therapy or intrapericardial placebo in addition to closed pericardiocentesis and anti-tuberculous therapy in patients with tuberculous pericarditis. Methods: Patients with large pericardial effusions requiring pericardiocentesis were included. A short-course anti-tuberculous regimen was initiated and patients were randomised to one of three treatment groups: 200 mg intrapericardial triamcinolone hexacetonide; oral prednisone plus intrapericardial placebo; or 5 ml intrapericardial 0.9% saline (placebo). Patients were followed up for at least one year. Results: Fifty-seven patients were included in the study; 21 tested HIV positive (36.8%). Forty (70.0%) had microbiological and/or histological evidence of tuberculosis, and 17 (30.0%) had a diagnosis based on clinical and laboratory data. All patients responded well to initial pericardiocentesis. However, nine patients (16.0%) were lost to follow up. The hospitalisation duration for the steroid groups was shorter than for the placebo group. This difference was not significant. Complications were similar for all arms. Conclusions: Intrapericardial and systemic corticosteroids were well tolerated but did not improve the clinical outcome. The standard six-month regimen was effective regardless of HIV infection. The potential benefits from adjunctive corticosteroids in the management of effusive tuberculous pericarditis could not be demonstrated in this three-year study.
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