What is the role of glucocorticoids in the treatment of acute bacterial pneumonia?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

The role of glucocorticoids in acute bacterial pneumonia has yet to be clearly elucidated. Classic teaching warns that the use of glucocorticoids in infection may impair the immune response. However, findings demonstrate that local pulmonary inflammation may be reduced with systemic glucocorticoids. In a 2015 meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials evaluating the use of systemic corticosteroids in patients hospitalized for CAP, [64] it was found with high certainty that systemic corticosteroid steroid treatment reduced the duration of hospitalization by approximately 1 day and had a 5% absolute reduction in risk for mechanical ventilation. The study also found that patients with severe pneumonia who received systemic corticosteroids had an apparent mortality benefit over patients with severe pneumonia who did not receive systemic corticosteroids, which may be related to the higher incidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome and the need for mechanical ventilation in patients with severe pneumonia. However, this evidence was rated moderate as the confidence interval crossed 1 and because of a possible subgroup effect. All patients who received corticosteroids had a higher incidence of hyperglycemia requiring treatment. Thus, in immunocompetent patients hospitalized with severe CAP, systemic corticosteroids should be considered, given the possible mortality benefit of systemic corticosteroid treatment in this subgroup of patients.


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