Update on low-dose corticosteroids

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Low-dose hydrocortisone is recommended in patients with septic shock unresponsive to fluid and vasopressor therapy. Recent research added new data for patients with septic shock and other target groups such as patients with severe sepsis, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), community-acquired pneumonia, and burns. The objective of this review is to summarize and comment recent findings on low-dose corticosteroids (LDC) in critically ill patients.

Recent findings

In the last 2 years, a series of clinical trials and retrospective analyses investigated LDC therapy in critically ill patients with severe systemic inflammation of various origins. Improvement in morbidity has been demonstrated in ARDS and community-acquired pneumonia. Retrospective propensity-score analyses also suggest that LDC administered in severe septic shock or in septic shock due to community-acquired pneumonia or intestinal perforation may improve survival.

Summary

Low-dose hydrocortisone or a corresponding low-dose corticosteroid therapy may improve morbidity in specific target groups of critically ill patients. Beneficial effects on mortality remain to be demonstrated in large-scale randomized controlled trials.

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