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Natl Med J India. 2005 May-Jun;18(3):131-3.

Magnitude of unresponsiveness to sodium stibogluconate in the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis in Bihar.

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Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Indian Council of Medical Research, Agamkuan, Patna 800007, Bihar, India.



The Indian government proposes to eliminate kala-azar, which has been a serious public health problem in Bihar. This study aimed to assess the magnitude of unresponsiveness to sodium stibogluconate in the treatment of new cases of visceral leishmaniasis and to identify the associated factors.


Patients with clinically and parasitologically confirmed visceral leishmaniasis (n = 182) who had received no prior treatment, were enrolled for the study. The patients were treated with sodium stibogluconate (20 mg/kg body weight; upper limit 850 mg), intramuscularly for 30 days. The vital parameters and side-effects, if any, were monitored. Patients who developed toxicity during treatment were excluded from the study but were given rescue treatment with liposomal amphotericin B. All patients who completed the treatment were followed up for 6 months.


Unresponsiveness to sodium stibogluconate at the end of treatment was 43%. It was higher in women (48%) compared to men (40%). A significant association was observed between unresponsiveness and level of endemicity (p = 0.0002), large spleen size (p = 0.04) and immune response (migration inhibition factor) (p = 0.00002). At the end of 6 months' follow up, 27% of patients relapsed, giving a total unresponsiveness rate of 58%.


Unresponsiveness to sodium stibogluconate is a serious problem in the management of patients with visceral leishmaniasis. In patients with factors associated with nonresponse to sodium stibogluconate, alternative drugs such as miltefosine or amphotericin B should be considered as first-line drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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