Revisiting the role of steroids and aspirin in the management of acute Kawasaki disease

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Kawasaki disease is an acute multisystem childhood vasculitis with a predilection for the coronary arteries. The role of corticosteroids and acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) in the treatment of acute Kawasaki disease are matters of ongoing debate and changing attitudes from one extreme to the other. Recent work has provided new evidence to guide our thinking about these two therapeutic agents, which will be the focus of this review.

Recent findings

Corticosteroids are effective and well tolerated in Kawasaki disease, both as initial adjunctive treatment in those at high-risk for poor outcome, and as rescue therapy after failed intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).

Recent findings

Higher doses of ASA (> 30 mg/kg/day) in the acute phase of Kawasaki disease, have no clear benefit over antiplatelet doses in improving coronary outcome.

Summary

Corticosteroids should be used in patients at high-risk for poor coronary outcome, and in patients who fail IVIG. The absence of widely applicable and validated risk-scoring systems in Kawasaki disease outside of Japan remains a limiting factor to identify high-risk children. Current evidence does not demonstrate any advantage of high-dose over low-dose ASA in the acute phase of Kawasaki disease, in preventing coronary artery aneurysms.

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