Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Intravenous glucocorticoid therapy for Graves' ophthalmopathy and acute liver damage: an epidemiological study.

OBJECTIVE: Intravenous glucocorticoid (i.v.GC) pulse therapy for Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO) can be associated with acute liver damage (ALD), which was roughly estimated to occur in ∼1% of patients, with an overall mortality of 0.4%. The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of ALD after the introduction of a series of exclusion criteria and preventive measures.

DESIGN: Retrospective evaluation of all consecutive patients candidate to i.v.GC over a period of 5 years.

METHODS: The study includes 376 GO patients candidate to i.v.GC. Several liver tests were performed before, during, and after i.v.GC. To prevent ALD morbidity and mortality, the following measures were applied: i) exclusion of patients with active viral hepatitis and/or severe liver steatosis; ii) reduction in the GC dose, frequency, and number of pulses; and iii) administration of oral GC after i.v.GC, and also during i.v.GC in patients positive for nonorgan-specific autoantibodies (to prevent autoimmune hepatitis due to immune rebound). ALD was defined as an increase in alanine aminotransferase ≥ 300 U/l.

RESULTS: A total of 353 patients were given i.v.GC and 23 were excluded for various conditions. ALD was detected in 4/376 patients candidate to i.v.GC, resulting in a morbidity of 1.06%. One patient recovered spontaneously and three after additional treatment with oral GC, given to re-establish immune suppression in the suspect of an autoimmune hepatitis.

CONCLUSIONS: ALD related to i.v.GC is a relatively rare adverse event. Provided an accurate selection of patients and a series of preventive measures are applied, i.v.GC is a safe treatment for the liver.

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