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Thompson SK, Doerr TD, Hengerer AS. Infectious Mononucleosis and Corticosteroids: Management Practices and Outcomes. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005;131(10):900–904. doi:10.1001/archotol.131.10.900
Although many studies have examined the effects of systemic corticosteroid therapy (SCT) on the clinical course of infectious mononucleosis (IM), few have evaluated the influence of these studies on treatment patterns and outcomes. The purpose of this study was to review current therapeutic strategies and outcomes in uncomplicated and complicated IM.
Retrospective case series.
Tertiary care center.
We identified 206 immunocompetent patients with IM diagnosed during the previous 5 years. Patient information, including age, sex, history and physical findings at presentation, pertinent laboratory data, management practices, and treatment outcomes, were analyzed.
Systemic corticosteroid therapy was used in 44.7% of patients. Evaluation of treatment indications for SCT revealed that 8.0% of the study population qualified by traditional criteria for the use of corticosteroids; 92.0% of patients received SCT for other indications. Factors associated with the observed increase in corticosteroid use included a history of repeat visits, inpatient admission, and otolaryngology consultation.
Main Outcome Measures
Diagnosis was made on the basis of a positive heterophil antibody test (monospot test) with appropriate clinical findings (97.5% of patients) or by the presence of lymphocytosis with appropriate clinical findings (2.4% of patients).
Systemic corticosteroid therapy was not positively associated with fever, decreased oral intake, tonsillar hypertrophy, or duration of symptoms. No significant differences in incidence of disease complications, rates of hospital admission, or length of hospital stay were noted between the steroid and nonsteroid treatment groups.
Despite consistent and uniform acceptance in the medical literature that SCT in the setting of IM should be reserved for patients with impending airway obstruction, corticosteroids continue to be used on a much broader scale at this tertiary care institution. This observation suggests that clinicians see value in SCT for treatment of IM beyond the classically accepted reasons. Moreover, despite previous reports of possible adverse consequences of SCT in IM, our review failed to demonstrate any such trend.
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