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Online ISSN 1827-1596
SMART 2002 Milan, May 29-31, 2002
From the Service de Réanimation Médicale Hôpital Raymond Poincaré, Faculté de Médecine Paris-Ouest, Université Paris V, Garches, France
Corticosteroids were proposed to treat patients with severe sepsis as early as 1940. A summary of all available randomized controlled trials performed between 1966 and 1993 was provided in two systematic review that recommended to abandon the use of high dose coricosteroids to treat patients with severe infection. Nonetheless, a doubt still persist regarding the efficacy of a strategy of replacement therapy in cathecolamines-dependent shock. This strategy relies mainly on the concept that septic shock may be complicated by 1) an occult adrenal insufficiency, 2) a glucocorticoid peripheral resistance syndrome. Some studies demonstrated the effect of replacement therapy with hydrocortisone on the sistemic inflammatory response and on the cardiovascular function during sepsis. The effect of this therapy on survival to septic shock is controversial both in recent and old studies. Finally a recently comleted multicenter, placebo controlled, randomized, double-blind study has evaluated the efficacy and tolerance of a replacement therapy with a combination of hydrocortisone (50 mg intravenous bolus four times per day) and fludrocortisone (50 g orally once a day) given for 7 days. This study included 300 catecholamines- and ventilator-dependent septic shock. The authors found a significant reduction in 28-day mortality in patient with occult renal insufficiency. In sum, short course with high doses of corticosteroids shoul not be given in severe sepsis, exept for specific entitles like severe typhoid fever, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in AIDS or bacterial meningitis in children. The rational for a replacement therapy with hydrocortisone in catecholamines-dependent septic shock grows stronger.