Background: The effects of corticosteroids on clinical outcomes of patients with sepsis remains controversial. We aimed to further determine the effectiveness of corticosteroids in reducing mortality in adult patients with severe sepsis by comparison with placebo.
Methods: Pubmed, Embase, Medline, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) as well as the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) Web of Science were searched for all controlled studies that compared corticosteroids and placebo in adult patients with severe sepsis. The primary outcome was the mortality 28-day mortality and the secondary outcomes were mortality at longest follow up, occurrence, and reoccurrence of septic shock.
Results: A total of 19 trials involving 7035 patients were pooled in our final analyses. No significant heterogeneity was found in any of the outcome measures. Compared with placebo, corticosteroids were associated with a lower 28-day mortality (RR 0.91, 95% CI 0.85-0.98, Z = 2.57, P = 0.01) both in patients having sepsis and in those who developed septic shock (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.85-0.99, Z = 2.19, P = 0.03), while no significant difference was found in mortality with the longest follow up in patients either having sepsis (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.89-1.00, Z = 1.93, P = 0.05), or occurrence (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.56-1.24, Z = 0.90, P = 0.37) or reoccurrence of septic shock (RR 1.08, 95% CI 1.00-1.16, Z = 1.89, P = 0.06).
Conclusions: Corticosteroids were effective in reducing the 28-day mortality in patients with severe sepsis and in those with septic shock.
Keywords: Corticosteroids; Mortality; Sepsis; Septic shock.
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