Intravenous Steroids With Antibiotics on Admission for Children With Orbital Cellulitis

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To compare the outcomes of children with orbital cellulitis treated with intravenous (IV) dexamethasone and antibiotics on admission to patients treated with antibiotics alone.


Prospective comparative interventional study. Forty-three children admitted to a tertiary institution with orbital cellulitis were enrolled. On admission, all patients were started on broad spectrum IV antibiotics and parents were offered IV dexamethasone (0.3 mg/kg/d every 6 hours for 3 days). Patients whose parents refused steroid treatment served as the control group.


Twenty-eight (65%) patients received IV steroids and antibiotics on admission while 15 (35%) received IV antibiotics alone. Children who received IV steroids had significantly shorter hospital stays than those who did not receive steroids (3.8 ± 0.2 days vs. 6.7 ± 0.3 days; p < 0.001). This was true both for children who underwent surgery (5/28 with steroids, 3/15 without; 5.0 ± 0.7 days vs. 7.3 ± 1.2 days; p = 0.011) and for those who did not require surgical intervention (23/28 with steroids, 12/15 without; 3.6 ± 0.6 and 6.5 ± 1.0 days; p < 0.001). Side effects of steroid treatment were mild and did not require termination of therapy. During follow up, all study patients had returned to their baseline health without any cases of decreased vision or disease recurrence.


The results of the current study give additional evidence to the relative safety and efficacy of systemic steroid use concurrently with IV antibiotics in children with orbital cellulitis. This is the first study to recommend IV steroids on hospital admission and a standardized dosing regimen. Children who received steroids had a shorter hospital stay than those who did not.

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