Efficacy of corticosteroid therapy in patients with an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease receiving ventilatory support

Inmaculada Alía, Miguel A. De La Cal, Andrés Esteban, Ana Abella, Ricard Ferrer, Francisco J. Molina, Antoni Torres, Federico Gordo, José J. Elizalde, Raúl De Pablo, Alejandro Huete, Antonio Anzueto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Background: Randomized trials assessing the effect of systemic corticosteroids on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations excluded patients who were mechanically ventilated or admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Critically ill patients constitute a population of persons who are prone to develop complications that are potentially associated with the use of corticosteroids (eg, infections, hyperglycemia, ICU-acquired paresis) that could prolong the duration of mechanical ventilation and even increase mortality. Methods: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of systemic corticosteroid treatment in patients with an exacerbation of COPD who were receiving ventilatory support (invasive or noninvasive mechanical ventilation). A total of 354 adult patients who were admitted to the ICUs of 8 hospitals in 4 countries from July 2005 through July 2009 were screened, and 83 were randomized to receive intravenous methylprednisolone (0.5 mg/kg every 6 hours for 72 hours, 0.5 mg/kg every 12 hours on days 4 through 6, and 0.5 mg/kg/d on days 7 through 10) or placebo. The main outcome measures were duration of mechanical ventilation, length of ICU stay, and need for intubation in patients treated with noninvasive mechanical ventilation. Results: There were no significant differences between the groups in demographics, severity of illness, reasons for COPD exacerbation, gas exchange variables, and corticosteroid rescue treatment. Corticosteroid treatment was associated with a significant reduction in the median duration of mechanical ventilation (3 days vs 4 days; P=.04), a trend toward a shorter median length of ICU stay (6 days vs 7 days; P=.09), and significant reduction in the rate of NIV failure (0% vs 37%; P=.04). Conclusion: Systemic corticosteroid therapy in patients withCOPDexacerbations requiring mechanical ventilation is associated with a significant increase in the success of noninvasive mechanical ventilation and a reduction in the duration of mechanical ventilation Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01281748.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1939-1946
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 28 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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