Extended Versus Short-Course Corticosteroid Taper Regimens in the Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbations in Critically Ill Patients

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Background:Previous literature has suggested that a short course of corticosteroids is similarly effective as an extended course for managing an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD). However, there are limited data regarding the optimal corticosteroid regimen in critically ill patients and the dosing strategies remain highly variable in this population.Methods:This retrospective cohort study evaluated patients with AECOPD admitted to the intensive care unit within a 2-year period. Patients were divided into short-course (≤5 days) or extended-course (>5 days) corticosteroid taper groups. The primary end point was treatment failure, defined as the need for intubation, reintubation, or noninvasive mechanical ventilation. Secondary end points included the duration of mechanical ventilation, hospital and intensive care unit length of stay, and adverse events.Results:Of the 151 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 94 received an extended taper and 57 received a short taper. Treatment failure occurred in 3 patients, who were all in the extended taper group (P = .17). In a propensity score-matched cohort, the hospital length of stay was 7 days in the short taper group compared to 11 days in the extended taper group (P < .0001). No differences in adverse events were observed.Conclusion:A short-course corticosteroid taper in critically ill patients with AECOPD is associated with reduced hospital length of stay and decreased corticosteroid exposure without increased risk of treatment failure. A prospective randomized trial is warranted.

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