Evaluation of Early Corticosteroid Therapy in Management of Pediatric Septic Shock in Pediatric Intensive Care Patients: A Randomized Clinical Study

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Septic shock is a major healthcare problem. Adrenal insufficiency (AI) in children with septic shock is a recognized complication, yet is controversial regarding its management and effect on mortality. According to the current guidelines, children with risk factors for AI should receive a stress dose of steroids in step 3 of treatment. This study aimed to evaluate and compare early corticosteroid therapy with the traditional use of steroids among pediatric septic shock patients.


This prospective randomized interventional clinical study included 3 groups of patients (32 each) and was conducted in Alexandria University pediatric intensive care unit. By protocol, the first group received steroids in step 3 of the treatment according to the current international guidelines (group A), and the second group was managed as group A and was tested for AI by adrenal stimulation test using intramuscular adrenocorticotropic hormone (cosyntropin) (group B). The third group received steroids at the start of fluid therapy (group C). A fourth group (group D) was created by adding patients from groups A and B who needed corticosteroids in the third stage of therapy according to the international protocol in 1 group. All patients were evaluated for basal serum cortisol and plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone concentrations.


The data showed a statistically significant shorter shock reversal time among patients receiving corticosteroids at the start of treatment compared with those who received it at the third step of treatment (P = 0.046); however, mortality was not statistically different among the groups. In addition, there was no superinfection in cases receiving early steroid therapy.


Early use of corticosteroid in patients with septic shock might shorten the shock reversal time without increase in mortality or superinfection.

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