Efficacy and safety of colchicine for pericarditis prevention. Systematic review and meta-analysis

Heart. 2012 Jul;98(14):1078-82. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2011-301306. Epub 2012 Mar 22.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy and safety of colchicine for pericarditis prevention.

Background: Recurrent pericarditis prevention is a major management goal that may reduce morbidity and management costs. Although empiric anti-inflammatory therapy is considered the mainstay of treatment, no specific drug has been proven to be efficacious for prevention but colchicine.

Methods: Controlled clinical studies were searched in several databases and were included provided they focused on the pharmacologic primary or secondary prevention of pericarditis. We performed a meta-analysis including studies primary outcome, adverse events, and drug withdrawal.

Results: From the initial sample of 127 citations, five controlled clinical trials were finally included (795 patients): three studies were double-blind randomised controlled trials, and two studies were open-label randomised controlled trials. Trials followed patients for a mean of 13 months. Meta-analytic pooling showed that colchicine use was associated with a reduced risk of pericarditis during follow-up (RR=0.40, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.54, p for effect <0.001, p for heterogeneity = 0.95, I(2)=0%) either for primary or secondary prevention without a significant higher risk of adverse events compared with placebo (RR=1.22, 95% CI 0.71 to 2.10, p for effect 0.48, p for heterogeneity = 0.44, I(2)=0%), but more cases of drug withdrawals (RR=1.85, 95% CI 1.04 to 3.29, p for effect 0.04, p for heterogeneity = 0.42, I(2)=0%). Gastrointestinal intolerance is the most frequent side effect (mean incidence 8%), but no severe adverse events were recorded.

Conclusions: Available evidence suggests that colchicine is safe and efficacious for the primary and secondary prevention of pericarditis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colchicine / therapeutic use*
  • Gout Suppressants / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Pericarditis / prevention & control*
  • Secondary Prevention / methods*


  • Gout Suppressants
  • Colchicine