Oral budesonide treatment for protein-losing enteropathy in Fontan-palliated patients

Pediatr Cardiol. 2011 Oct;32(7):966-71. doi: 10.1007/s00246-011-0029-2. Epub 2011 Jun 10.


Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is a rare complication of Fontan palliation associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is characterized by the loss of serum proteins into the intestinal lumen, and its pathophysiology likely involves enteral inflammation. Budesonide, an oral steroid, is an attractive treatment option because of its potent enteral activity and minimal systemic side effects. A single-center, retrospective review of Fontan-palliated PLE patients treated with oral budesonide for 6 months or longer was performed. The patient characteristics reviewed were demographics, anatomic diagnosis, budesonide treatment (dose and duration), other medications and therapeutic interventions, hospitalizations, serum albumin levels, medical complications, and patient status at the time of follow-up assessment. The study enrolled 10 patients representing 228 patient-months of on-therapy follow-up evaluation. Serum albumin levels increased after initiation of budesonide for 90% of the patients, and clinical evidence of fluid overload improved for 60% of them. Symptomatic improvement was reported in 80% of the cases. During the treatment period, 50% of the patients met the primary end point of death or cardiac transplantation. In this series of PLE patients, oral budesonide therapy was associated with significant symptomatic improvement and sustained increases in serum albumin. However, budesonide therapy may not alter the long-term outcome for patients with advanced PLE.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Budesonide / administration & dosage*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fontan Procedure / adverse effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies / drug therapy*
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Budesonide