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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003 Oct;22(10):883-8.

Double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of dexamethasone therapy for hematogenous septic arthritis in children.

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1
Infectious Diseases, Hospital Nacional de Niños, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Septic arthritis is associated with residual dysfunction in 10 to 25% of affected children. Concentrations of cytokines detected in synovial fluid of children with bacterial arthritis correlate with the severity of inflammation. Treatment with dexamethasone decreased cartilage degradation in experimental Haemophilus influenzae b and Staphylococcus aureus arthritis.

ENDPOINTS:

To decrease the number of patients with residual dysfunction of the affected joint at the end of therapy and at 6 and 12 months and to speed clinical recovery by the administration of dexamethasone.

METHODS:

In a double blind manner we randomly selected 123 children with suspected hematogenous bacterial arthritis to receive dexamethasone or saline for 4 days. Antibiotic therapy was tailored according to age and the recovered pathogen.

RESULTS:

Of the 123 children enrolled, 61 were assigned to the dexamethasone group and 62 to the placebo group. Only 50 and 50 patients in each group were evaluable. The 2 groups of patients were comparable with respect to age, sex, duration of symptoms, pathogen, affected joint and therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. Staphylococcus aureus accounted for 67% of the isolates, Haemophilus influenzae type b for 13% and Streptococcus pneumoniae for 9%. Dexamethasone therapy reduced residual dysfunction at the end of therapy, P = 0.000068; at 6 months, P = 0.00007; and at 12 months, P = 0.00053 of follow-up and shortened the duration of symptoms (P = 0.001) during the acute phase. The 26% incidence of residual dysfunction in the control patients was similar to the 25% found in other series.

CONCLUSIONS:

A short course of dexamethasone reduced residual joint dysfunction and shortened significantly the duration of symptoms in children with documented hematogenous septic arthritis. These results suggest that a 4-day course of low dose dexamethasone given early benefits children with hematogenous septic arthritis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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