Background: Steroids are highly effective in active Crohn's disease; clinical relapse following steroid withdrawal, however, is frequent. We used two steroid regimens of different duration in order to compare their efficacy in inducing and maintaining clinical remission.
Methods: Seventy patients with active Crohn's disease were treated with methylprednisolone 40 mg/day i.m. for 3 weeks and then with two different regimens of tapering dosage: one for a further 4 weeks and another for a further 12 weeks.
Results: Steroid therapy induced remission within 3 weeks in 91% of the whole group of patients; at the end of each protocol remission rates were 85% of patients in the group treated for the shorter period and 87% of those treated for the longer period (difference 2%, CI = -14 to 18, P = NS); remission rates within 6 months after stopping steroids were 53% and 37% respectively (difference 16%, CI = -9 to 41, P = NS).
Conclusions: No significant differences were found between the two regimens. Multiple courses of steroid treatment in the previous 3 years and a short time interval following previous steroid treatment seem to be risk factors for relapse.