Glucocorticoid therapy in neurologic critical care

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Abstract

Background:

The pivotal role of inflammation and edema across the spectrum of central nervous system injury has driven extensive investigation into the therapeutic potential of glucocorticoids.

Objective:

To review the experimental and clinical data relating to the efficacy and adverse effects of glucocorticoids in conditions encountered in critical neurologic and neurosurgical illness.

Data Source:

Search of MEDLINE and Cochrane databases, manual review of article bibliographies.

Data Synthesis and Conclusions:

The efficacy of glucocorticoids is well established in ameliorating edema associated with brain tumors and in improving outcome in subsets of patients with bacterial meningitis. Despite frequently encouraging experimental results, clinical trials of glucocorticoids in ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, and traumatic brain injury have not shown a definite therapeutic effect. The evidence supporting glucocorticoid therapy for spinal cord injury is controversial; however methylprednisolone continues to be widely employed in this setting.

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