Background: Recent studies suggested that administration of corticosteroids may improve clinical outcomes in patients with severe pneumonia.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of corticosteroids as an adjunctive therapy in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) requiring hospitalization.
Design and setting: An open label, prospective, randomized control study was conducted from September 2003 to February 2004 in a community general hospital in Japan.
Patients: Thirty-one adult CAP patients who required hospitalization were enrolled.
Measurements and results: Fifteen patients received 40 mg of prednisolone intravenously for 3 days (steroid group). Sixteen patients did not receive prednisolone (control group). Both groups were also evaluated for their adrenal function. The primary endpoint was length of hospital stay. Secondary endpoints were duration of intravenous (IV) antibiotics and time required to stabilize vital signs. Both groups demonstrated similar baseline characteristics and length of hospital stay, and yet a shorter duration of IV antibiotics was observed in the steroid group (p < 0.05). In addition, vital signs were stabilized earlier in the steroid group (p < 0.05). These differences were more prominent in the moderate-severe subgroup but not as significant in the mild-moderate subgroup. The prevalence of relative adrenal insufficiency (RAI) in both groups was high (43%), yet there was no difference in baseline characteristics between patients, with or without RAI. In multiple regression models, RAI seemed to have no influence on clinical courses.
Conclusions: In moderate-severe CAP, administration of corticosteroids promotes resolution of clinical symptoms and reduces the duration of intravenous antibiotic therapy.