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Rheumatol Int. 2011 Nov;31(11):1429-32. doi: 10.1007/s00296-010-1507-1. Epub 2010 May 13.

Intravenous dexamethasone followed by oral prednisolone versus oral prednisolone in the treatment of childhood Henoch-Schönlein purpura.

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Department of Paediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Severance Children's Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of intravenous corticosteroid therapy when Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) patients are unable to tolerate oral medications due to abdominal pain. We retrospectively analyzed 111 children with a diagnosis of HSP (mean age 6.9 ± 2.3 years, male:female = 54:57) from the years 2000 to 2007. They were divided into two groups: 49 patients received only oral prednisolone (PL group) and 62 patients received oral prednisolone after intravenous dexamethasone (Dexa + PL group). Palpable purpura was seen in all 111 patients (100%), abdominal pain in 55 (50%), and arthralgia in 65 (59%). Dexa + PL group had significantly longer duration of fasting than PL group (0.7 ± 1.2 vs. 0.02 ± 0.1 days, P < 0.01) due to more severe and frequent abdominal pain (68 vs. 27%, P < 0.01). Intravenous dexamethasone resulted in the rapid resolution of abdominal pain or arthralgia in all patients without major complications. However, the development of nephritis (21% in PL group versus 32% in Dexa + PL group, P = 0.098), the number of relapse (4 vs. 11%, P = 0.167), and persistent nephritis at last follow-up (12 vs. 16%, P = 0.563) were not different between the two groups despite more severe symptoms in Dexa + PL group. Intravenous dexamethasone followed by oral prednisolone may be a useful and effective therapeutic strategy in HSP children who cannot tolerate oral medications due to severe abdominal pain.

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