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September 1990

Steroids for Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia and Respiratory Failure in the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: A Reassessment

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, North Shore University Hospital—Cornell University Medical College, Manhasset, NY.

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(9):1819-1821. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390200033006

• Patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome who have Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) and respiratory failure have a high mortality. Previous reports have suggested that corticosteroids administered in conjunction with antibiotics improve the outcome in these patients. We reviewed our experience with adjunctive corticosteroids in 20 patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and respiratory failure due to PCP to determine If this was the case. Fourteen patients responded to therapy with initial reversal of their respiratory failure. However, nine of these relapsed with recurrence of respiratory failure after steroid therapy was withdrawn. Eight (40%) of the patients remained alive and well 3 months or more following treatment. When the analysis was restricted to patients requiring intubation, only 25% were alive 3 months later. Despite good initial response to steroids in PCP and respiratory failure, survival remains limited. Controlled trials are needed to define better the role of steroid treatment in these patients.

(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:1819-1821)

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