Background: Although corticosteroids are the drug of choice for acute exacerbations of pulmonary sarcoidosis, the dose and duration of therapy is not standardized. We reviewed the short-term treatment outcome (median duration = 21 days) of 36 patients with acute exacerbations of pulmonary sarcoidosis using low-dose corticosteroid therapy (20 mg or less of daily prednisone equivalent). To the best of our knowledge, this is the shortest period of time over which the treatment of pulmonary sarcoidosis with corticosteroids has been assessed.
Methods: Patients were identified retrospectively from an institution-approved database. Patient symptoms and spirometry were obtained from chart review. Additional clinical data were obtained from chart and database review.
Results: Follow-up visits occurred a median of 21 days after the date of the exacerbation (mean 25 +/- 3 standard error of mean). The average prednisone dose was 19 mg +/- 0.4 standard error of mean. Patients had significant improvement in spirometry on this low-dose treatment regimen by the time of their short-term follow-up (forced vital capacity percent predicted improved from 68 to 82 [P < 0.0001] and was not significantly different from baseline; forced expiratory volume in 1 second percent predicted improved from 57 to 72 [P < 0.0001] and was not significantly different from baseline). Pulmonary symptoms also improved.
Conclusions: Treatment of acute exacerbations of pulmonary sarcoidosis with 20 mg prednisone for a median of 21 days improved spirometry back to baseline and improved clinical symptoms. These data suggest that this corticosteroid dose can be safely used initially, and an attempt at tapering can be considered within the first month.